Current Projects

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Multiple pathologies during pregnancy are associated with inappropriate placental development and/or function. A transient organ, usually disposed of after birth, the placenta is the ideal target organ for gene therapy. Development of non-viral tissue-specific transgene delivery systems is essential for the safe application of gene therapy in the developing human placenta. In this project we are designing and investigating the effects of gene transfer and cell-specific expression of biodegradable placenta-specific polymer-DNA nanoparticles on placental function in a model of placental insufficiency in mice.

 In the placenta, multiple cell types exist in close proximity and may undergo paracrine regulation following an insult or treatment of another cell type. Classic in Vitro studies involve the culture of one cell type such as placental trophoblast. Although useful, these types of studies may not reflect the in Vivo environment per se. In this project we have developed a co-culture model of placental endothelial cells and trophoblast cells and investigate the regulation of each cell type both morphologically and functionally.
 Heart and placental development occurs concurrently in early pregnancy and factors may regulate both organs leading to congenital malformations. HLHS is one condition that may include both heart and placental defects. This project is investigating the abnormalities seen in the placenta following delivery of HLHS patients and shedding light on novel insights into the development of reduced fetal growth in HLHS.