Scientists in Israel have developed an artificial mouse embryo with a beating heart and brain, without the use of sperm or an egg, and outside the womb.
The fetus was grown in an artificial womb for eight days using stem cells taken from skin grown in a petri dish.
Stem cell scientists believe this could be an important step towards creating alternative human organs.
The scientists involved in the study said the goal was not to create mice or babies outside the womb, but rather to uncover an understanding of how organs develop in fetuses and use that knowledge to develop new ways to treat humans.
The results of the study were published on Monday at Cell logpeer reviews.
The Times of Israel, citing cell biologist Jacob Hanna of the Weizmann Institute of Science, said that this is the first time that an advanced embryo has been created from only stem cells of any type.
Professor Hanna added: “It’s wonderful, there were no sperm, no eggs, no uterus, but we were able to create embryos from stem cells only for eight days, a third of a mouse’s pregnancy, with a beating heart.”
Previous attempts to create an embryo without sperm and egg have led to the formation of blastocysts, structures that form early in mammalian development.
Our crazy journey on It Goes On – New Hanna Lab @CellCellPress paper out:
“Post-gastrulation synthetic embryos obtained in utero exclusively from mouse ESCs”
— Jacob Hanna (@jacob_hanna) August 1, 2022
In the current experiment, scientists were able to develop artificial models that showed 95 percent similarity with normal embryos in the form of internal structures and patterns of gene expression of different cell types.
Professor Hanna said the research could one day be used to grow “structures similar to the human embryo.”
Synthetic mouse embryos created from stem cells – without sperm, eggs and uterus via @statnews
— Jacob Hanna (@jacob_hanna) August 2, 2022
“The next challenge is to understand how stem cells know what to do — how to independently assemble into organs and find their way to their assigned places inside the embryo,” he added. Since our system, unlike the uterus, is transparent, it can be useful in modeling birth defects and implanting human embryos.”
In addition to reducing the use of animals in research, artificial embryo models may become a reliable source of cells, tissues and organs for transplantation in the future.
“Instead of developing a separate protocol for growing each type of cell, such as kidney or liver cells, one day we will be able to create a model similar to an artificial embryo and then isolate the cells we need. to dictate to the nascent bodies as they should,” Hanna continued. – It’s developing. The fruit itself does it best.”
Remarkably, stem cells can develop into any tissue or organ, so the possibility of using these cells to repair spinal cord injuries, transplant a damaged heart, or treat diabetes has long attracted scientists. But transforming these cells into complex functional tissues has not been easy. Hanna and his team are now hoping that watching this process unfold early in development will provide important clues.
“Our goal is not to induce an ectopic pregnancy, whether in mice or any other species,” Hanna said. “We already have difficulty creating organs, and in order to make stem cells become organs, we need to know how to do it.” “. it makes the fruit. We started with this because the uterus is a box.” Black, not transparent.