The UAEU Placenta Research Laboratory, the first laboratory of its kind in the Middle East, is currently researching the impact of the surrounding chemicals and the drugs taken by a pregnant woman on her fetus. The laboratory is led by Dr. Shamsa Al Awar, Head of the Obstetrics and Gynecology Department, College of Medicine and Health Sciences, United Arab Emirates University (UAEU).
"We cannot conduct experiments on pregnant women, but at the placenta research laboratory, we can study the effect of chemical drugs and even vitamins on simulated placenta, which helps in identifying potential dangers to the fetus," said Dr. Al Awar. "Conducting such a research is not an easy task as it requires infrastructure and skilled competencies.”
Dr. Al-Awar believes that this lab will be a great driver for developing higher studies’ programs in Pharmacology and conducting further specialized medical studies. Since its establishment, the laboratory has published four medical research papers in accredited scientific and medical journals. One of the published paper is on the impacts of the most common drugs taken by pregnant women such as Panadol and ibuprofen.
"There is a lack of studies on such a topic," said Dr. Malik, a visiting professor, who has worked at similar labs in Germany, Switzerland and Britain. “Many pregnant women are taking drugs and vitamins that are accessible to everyone.”
Dr. Nawal, a research team member, explained "many pregnant women, who are diagnosed with chronic diseases such as thyroid diseases and Epilepsy, have to stop taking medicines due to the fear of badly affecting their fetuses. Our research will serve as a guarantee on dispensing secure drugs for both mothers and fetuses.
Such research is hoped to help in having healthier and smarter babies through delivering food and medical supplies to fetuses by placentas. Drug companies will also have the opportunity to test their medicines and determine their safety on maternal and fetal health.
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