(ORDO NEWS) — Scientists have successfully grown a synthetic mouse embryo without the use of sperm and the female uterus.
They used mouse stem cells to recreate the first stage of life and successfully developed an embryo with a brain, a beating heart and vital functions for other organs.
In the lab, the researchers mimicked the natural process of life without eggs and sperm, but with basic body cells that can develop into virtually any type of cell in the body.
The embryo was developed 8 and a half days after fertilization and contained the same structures as the natural one.
The study, published in the journal Nature, says their result demonstrates the ability of embryonic and two types of extra-embryonic stem cells to self-assemble for mammalian development.
The researchers induced the expression of a certain set of genes and created a unique environment for their interaction and forced the stem cells to “talk” to each other.
Subsequently, the stem cells self-organized into structures that went through successive stages of development until they had a beating heart and the basis of a brain, as well as a yolk sac from which the embryo develops and receives nutrients in the first weeks.
Going forward, the researchers hope to use so-called embryoids to better understand the early stages of development and study the underlying mechanisms of the disease without the need for so many laboratory animals.
This research could also lay the groundwork for creating synthetic human embryos for future research.
However, this is not the first study to create an artificial embryo. Israeli scientists recently hatched a synthetic embryo outside the womb using stem cells grown in a petri dish.
Scientists have high hopes for this technology, which is likely to help grow tissues and organs for transplant using synthetic embryos.
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