As some researchers pursue cloning and stem cell work, attracting media attention along the way, others concentrate on embryonic research that will help produce healthier babies. From esoteric work on genetic control mechanisms to studies of fetal nutrition, human genetics, and the effects of toxic substances on the fetus, scientists are trying to formulate a fuller picture of what occurs in utero. For example, scientists like Dennis Thiele and colleagues in the biological chemistry department at the University of Michigan Medical School, are investigating the genetic cues in development.
Courtesy of Cynthia Bearer

Cynthia Bearer

Thiele's team is studying processes affected by the cell membrane and have identified a gene essential for copper transport into the embryonic cell, Ctr1. "A lot of people don't realize that copper is important for the appropriate neuropeptides—neuropeptide Y and other neuropeptides," says Thiele. "Our connective tissue, our skin, and our tendons have...

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