Placenta receptor could hold key to mammalian reproduction

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

A critical placenta receptor that could prevent life-threatening chronic disease will become the focus of University of Newcastle (UON) researcher, Dr Kirsty Pringle, after securing more than $690,000 under the prestigious Australian Research Council (ARC) Future Fellowship scheme.

Aimed at optimising fetal growth, the research could benefit all mammals including threatened animal species and valuable domestic animals such as livestock. Conversely, the findings could also develop mechanisms for controlling the fertility of feral animal species.

Dr Pringle said her work would focus on the role of a specific receptor in the growth and function of the placenta.

"We know that the development of a healthy placenta is critical for optimal fetal growth and can induce life-long changes that impact on the health of all species into adulthood. Through the use of new, innovative technologies I will, for the first time be able to examine the function of a specific receptor in the placenta and determine its impact on placental and fetal growth."

"Using this information we can then design a therapy to target that receptor, improving fetal development and reducing chronic diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease that are associated with poor fetal development."

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research & Innovation), Professor Kevin Hall said Dr Pringle was an exciting emerging researcher working in a field of critical national importance.

"Innovations in this field could dramatically change reproduction and health outcomes for populations globally."

"We are incredibly proud of Dr Pringle's success and of our research strength in this area more broadly. Our Priority Research Centre for Reproductive Science is globally renowned for its leadership in this field," said Professor Hall.

Dr Pringle is based at the Mothers and Babies Research Centre at the Hunter Medical Research Institute and is part of the Priority Research Centre for Reproductive Sciences.

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The University of Newcastle acknowledges the traditional custodians of the lands within our footprint areas: Awabakal, Darkinjung, Biripai, Worimi, Wonnarua, and Eora Nations. We also pay respect to the wisdom of our Elders past and present.