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From a single cell to a complex body, embryonic development is a miraculous process but with challenges along the way. On this amazing night, we will first explore the development of the placenta, where we all lived before birth. Then we will find out more about zebrafish, and how they can be used to study cancer development. The ultimate question is: how do cells manage to grow into a functional body?
The placenta: How to study it and what to learn
Dr Norah Fogarty (UKRI Future Leader Fellow and Group Leader at Centre Gene Therapy and Regenerative Medicine)
The correct functioning of the placenta is crucial for both mother and baby. After a human egg is fertilised, the cells multiply as the embryo grows. The placenta is one of the human body's most important organs and yet, it's one of the least understood. This is largely due to the difficulties accessing samples for study. Latest advances in human embryo research and in vitro models have revolutionised the opportunities to study early placenta development. This talk will explore how we study the placenta and what we want to uncover about this fascinating transient organ.
How do zebrafish help us learn about cancer?
Dr Caroline Hill (Principal Group leader and Assistant Research Director at the Francis Crick Institute)
Proper cell communication is essential for embryonic development from a single cell to a healthy baby with all its organs of the right size, in the right place and functioning correctly. This is true for the simplest organisms right up to humans. Zebrafish are model organisms to study these processes, which are very similar to those that drive human embryonic development. When cell communication goes wrong in adults, this can lead to different diseases, of which cancer is a major one. This talk will explain how zebrafish have given us clues to how cancer arises and spreads around the body.
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