Scientists Create Synthetic Mouse Embryos That Develop Brains And Beat Hearts
When you think about embryonic beginnings, you probably think of egg, sperm, and uterus. Think again. British and Israeli scientists have successfully created a synthetic model of an embryo using mouse stem cells grown in Petri dishes. This model developed a brain, a beating heart, and an intestinal tract similar to the biological variety.
Stem cells are the raw material of the body and can become different types of cells. Both mouse and human stem cells can do this, but in different ways.
The researchers hope their embryo model will help future mothers by improving their understanding of why early pregnancies fail and other pregnancies succeed. The body’ will help reduce the use of animals in research, and one day the limited supply of transplantable human organs could be supplemented with synthetic organs.
“Instead of developing different protocols for each cell type, such as kidney or liver, one day we may be able to create a synthetic embryo-like model and isolate the cells we need,” he said. . Jacob Hannah, Department of Molecular Genetics, Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel. “There’s no need to tell the emerging organ how it should develop. The embryo itself does this best.”
Artificial embryos are now in their time.
A team led by Hannah published a study on synthetic mouse embryos earlier this month in the journal Cell. Last week, Cambridge University scientists detailed their own, similar but separate study in Nature, drawing on techniques shared by Hanna’s group. Both teams spent at least 10 years purifying embryoid bodies.
“This has been a dream of our community for many years, a major focus of our work for 10 years, and we’ve finally done it,” said a professor of mammalian development and stem cell biology at the university. said Magdalena Zernicka-Goetz, PhD in the Department of Physiology, Development and Neuroscience at the University of Cambridge, who led the team’s study.
In a Nature study, the Cambridge team explains how three types of stem cells found in early mammalian development were able to “talk” to each other.
This communication is important because cell interaction signals direct embryonic development. The mouse stem cells eventually assembled into an embryo that developed over 8.5 days and had a beating heart-like structure and a brain with defined forebrain and midbrain regions.
Many pregnancies fail by the time this tissue is formed, and most pregnancies fail before they even realize they are.
“This period is the cornerstone of everything that follows pregnancy. If it doesn’t work out, the pregnancy will fail,” says Zernicka-Goetz, professor of mammalian development and stem cell biology in the Department of Physiology, Development and Sciences at the University of Cambridge. says Mr. Neuroscience led the team’s research. A detailed study of how stem cells are assembled could ultimately help scientists like Zernicka-Goetz identify what went wrong in these ill-fated pregnancies. there is.
Human embryoid bodies next?
Kirsten Matthews, a Science and Technology Fellow at the Baker Institute for Public Policy at Rice University, calls the research “fascinating.”
Matthews, who was not involved in either team’s work, said it “provides additional knowledge about how cells organize and specialize in the early stages of development.” “This knowledge was previously limited because it required implantation into the uterus of animals that were not readily observable.”
Of course, the term artificial embryo may lead future-minded individuals to visions of people grown outside the living womb. I have a long way to go for And not to mention ethically complex issues such as when these structures are considered embryos. Matthews warns that their promotion requires careful discussion and honesty.
But Hanna has no major concerns, at least for now.
“Synthetic embryos are very different from natural embryos, they are not viable and cannot be implanted in the uterus,” said Hannah, who co-founded a company that applies stem cell technology to health problems such as infertility and genetic diseases. “We’re just talking about very complex differentiation protocols that produce authentic cell types,” he said.