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Genetics Unzipped podcast: Baby boom – The surprising science of the placenta

Posted by , on 7 October 2021

 In the latest episode of Genetics Unzipped, Kat Arney explores the science behind one of the most remarkable but often overlooked organs in the mammalian body: the placenta.

To find out more, Kat chats with Ros John, who leads the Pregnancy Research Epigenetics Group or PREGLab at Cardiff University. Ros’s research focuses on understanding maternal mental health, imprinted genes and the role of the placenta during pregnancy and even beyond, with big implications for the health of both mother and child.

Kat also speaks to Sam Behjati, a group leader at the Wellcome Sanger Institute, who recently made the surprising discovery that the placenta is a genetic ‘dumping ground’. The pattern of genetic alterations in the placenta is different to any other human organ and resembles that of a tumour, harbouring many of the same genetic mutations found in childhood cancers.

Genetics Unzipped is the podcast from The Genetics Society. Full transcript, links and references available online at

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