Scientists at Cambridge University have grown “mini-placentas” that could prevent miscarriages.
The laboratory grown "organoids" used cells taken from placental tissue to examine the early stages of pregnancy.
An analysis of the study showed that the new placenta model was capable of secreting the proteins and hormones that affect a mother's metabolism during pregnancy.
It was even able to record a positive response when tested with a pregnancy test.
Dr Margherita Turco said: "Our knowledge of this important organ is very limited because of a lack of good experimental models.
"The organoids may answer unresolved questions about relationships between the placenta, the womb and the foetus."
The Cambridge team hope the findings will help scientists tackle problems such as miscarriage, stillbirth and premature delivery.