The world’s first “artificial embryo”: a breakthrough but it grows human organs away

The world’s first “artificial embryo”: a breakthrough but it grows human organs away

Stem cell scientists say they have made “artificial embryos” without first using sperm, eggs or fertilization, but the prospect of using such a technology to grow human organs for transplant remains elusive.

The breakthrough was hailed as a major step forward, although some experts said the result could not be considered fully embryonic and cautioned about future ethical considerations.

In a paper published in the journal Cell this week, scientists at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel describe mouse stem cells self-assemble into embryo-like structures in the laboratory.

The research was based on a 2018 research that contained a group of mouse stem cells that self-organized into something similar to the beginnings of an embryo — but with far fewer cells.

Weizmann’s team, led by Palestinian stem cell scientist Jacob Hanna, went much further.

They began by collecting cells from the skin of mice, then artificially returning them to a stem cell state.

Then the stem cells were placed in a special incubator, which is constantly moving to mimic the mother’s womb.

The vast majority of cells failed to form anything.

50 – 0.5 percent of the total of 10,000 – collected themselves into balls, then embryo-like structures, the researchers said.

After eight days – about a third of the mice’s 20-day gestation period – they showed early signs of a beating brain and heart, they added.

It has been described as 95 percent similar to normal rat embryos.

“The embryo is the best organ-making machine and the best 3D bio-printer – we’ve tried to simulate what it does,” Hanna said in Wiseman’s statement.

While they were the most advanced artificial embryo-like structure ever, some scientists not involved in the research cautioned against calling them “embryos.”

“These are not embryos,” French stem cell scientist Laurent David said. France Press agency.

“Unless proven otherwise, it does not result in a viable individual capable of procreation,” he added.

He preferred to call them embryos, the name given to a group of cells resembling an embryo, stressing that they showed only the beginnings of organs.

Still, David welcomed the “highly compelling” research, which he said could allow further experiments to understand exactly how organs form.

“The team’s next challenge is to understand how stem cells know what to do — how they self-assemble into organs and find their way to their designated places within the embryo,” Hanna said.

If human organs can one day be grown in a laboratory, it could provide life-saving transplants for thousands of people each year without the need for donors.

There has been progress in this new field – several years ago researchers were able to develop an artificial intestine in the laboratory that could be transplanted into a mouse.

However, for humans, organ transplantation remains science fiction.

However, Hanna founded a company, Renewal Bio, that aims to find a way to use the technology for therapeutic purposes.

Researchers not involved in the study said it’s too early to consider using such a technology for humans.

This breakthrough “opens the door to similar studies with human cells, although there are many regulatory hoops that must be bypassed first, and from the point of view of experiments, human systems lag behind those of mice,” said Alfonso Martínez Arias of Spain’s Pompeu Fabra University.

And seeking similar results from human cells would likely open an ethical can for worms.

“Although the possibility of artificial human embryos remains elusive, it will be necessary to engage in broader discussions about the legal and ethical implications of such research,” said James Briscoe of Britain’s Francis Crick Institute.

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