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A groundbreaking study, published in Nature Communications, unveils HAPPY - a pioneering tool that uses AI to revolutionise the analysis of placental health. Developed by an international team of researchers, HAPPY represents a significant leap forward in helping to understand the vital role of the placenta in maternal and fetal health.

The placenta, the body’s first organ, has been historically understudied and poorly understood despite its critical role in pregnancy. Now, thanks to HAPPY, this organ is under the microscope like never before.

Placenta histopathology, the study of placental tissue under a microscope, holds immense potential for predicting and preventing a range of pregnancy-related complications. It informs immediate clinical treatment, life-long mother and child care, and predicts the recurrence risk of disease in future pregnancies. However, the analysis of placental tissue is laborious and time-consuming, requiring years of specialised training. With HAPPY, this process is streamlined and enhanced through the power of artificial intelligence.

Unlocking Placental Mysteries with Advanced Deep Learning Analysis

At its core, HAPPY utilises a sophisticated deep learning pipeline to analyse placenta histology images. By predicting cell types, cellular interactions, and micro-anatomical structures across entire slides, HAPPY provides unprecedented insights into placental function and health.

Lead Author Claudia Vanea explains, "Placenta histology has seen relatively little attention compared to other organs for AI-driven analysis. But imagine examining over a million cells and tens of thousands of tissue structures on a single slide – a daunting task even for seasoned pathologists.

"HAPPY not only accelerates this process but provides the tools to enhance our understanding of placental biology at a scale previously thought impossible."

Harnessing Technology for Enhanced Obstetric Care and Maternal Health

One of HAPPY’s key features is to analyse significant cellular and micro-anatomical changes in placental disease, such as placental infarction. By comparing predictions to established benchmarks and expert analyses, HAPPY demonstrates its reliability and efficacy in identifying abnormalities and potential risks to maternal and fetal well-being.

"The implications of HAPPY extend beyond the laboratory," notes Claudia “we hope this technology will play a role in improving obstetric care and maternal and infant health in the near future."

Looking ahead, the research team aims to expand HAPPY’s capabilities to additional placental pathologies, further enhancing its utility for both clinical practice and scientific research.

As the global community continues to recognise the importance of women’s health, initiatives like HAPPY underscore the transformative potential of innovative technologies in addressing longstanding challenges in reproductive medicine. With continued collaboration and investment, the future of maternal and fetal health looks brighter than ever before.


For more information

For more information on HAPPY and the latest advancements in placental health research, please visit

Claudia Vanea,  Jelisaveta Džigurski,  Valentina Rukins,  Omri DodiSiim SiigurLiis SalumäeKaren MeirW. Tony ParksDrorith Hochner-CelnikierAbigail FraserHagit HochnerTriin Laisk,  Linda M. ErnstCecilia M. LindgrenChristoffer Nellåker 


Cool placenta facts

  • The placenta is the first organ we form.
  • As we have our father’s DNA, we are foreign to our mothers. The placenta protects us from rejection by the mum’s immune system.
  • The placenta functions as each of our organs before they develop.
  • The placenta has unique cells found nowhere else in the body called trophoblasts.
  • If we didn’t have a placenta, we’d likely be laying eggs.

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