US, WASHINGTON (ORDO NEWS) — Scientists have developed a “plan” of the human embryo using human stem cells, which was a breakthrough that could provide a vital understanding of the early stages of an infant’s development.
Teams from the University of Cambridge and the Netherlands Habrecht Institute said that their model will allow them to observe unprecedented processes that underlie the formation of the human body.
The location of a person – known as the body plan – occurs through a process known as gastrulation, where three different layers of cells form in the embryo, which then lead to the emergence of three major body systems: the nervous, musculoskeletal and digestive systems.
Gastrulation is called the “black box” period of human development, because legislative restrictions do not allow scientists to develop embryos in the laboratory.
In a study published in the journal Nature, it is reported that the model resembles an embryo between the ages of 18 and 21 days, at about the same time that gastrulation occurs.
According to the researchers, many birth defects occur during this period, and a better understanding of gastrulation can help us understand issues such as infertility, miscarriage, and genetic disorders.
“Our model is part of a human plan,” said lead author Alfonso Martinez-Arias of the Cambridge Genetics Department.
“It is interesting to observe the developmental processes that until now have been hidden from view and from study.”
To create three-dimensional models known as gastruloids, the team gathered bundles of human cells and processed them with chemicals that acted as signals to activate certain genes.
Researchers said that for the first time, human stem cells were used to create a 3D model of a human embryo after some trials using mouse stem cells.
Scientists emphasized that gastruloids never turn into fully formed embryos because they lack brain cells and lack tissue for implantation into the uterus.
Nevertheless, they were able to observe the model for about 72 hours and identify clear signs of events that lead to the formation of muscles, bones and cartilage.
Jeremy Green, a professor of developmental biology at King’s College London, said the study was a “fantastic window” in the early development of the human body.
“This underlines the amazing power of cell and tissue self-organization under the right conditions,” Green added.
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