The geneticists at the Weizmann Institute of Science have accomplished a breakthrough – making synthetic mouse embryos with brains and beating hearts outside the uterus utilizing stem cells that they took from the skin and refined in a dish.
Prof. Jacob Hanna, the research team head at Rehovot institute’s Molecular Genetics Department, says that the embryo is not just the most delicate organ-developing machine but also the best 3D bioprinter. He says that he and his team tried to outdo how it performs.
Scientists are already aware how they can restore mature cells in order to “stem-ness” – innovators of this cellular reprogramming successfully won a Nobel Prize in year 2012. However, heading in the reverse direction – which is, causing the stem cells to distinguish into particular body cells, has proven to be much more challenging.
Why is it more challenging?
The revolution has just been posted by the paper Cell with the title “Post-Gastrulation Synthetic Embryos Generated Ex Utero from Mouse Naïve ESCs.”
Since always, an egg connecting with a sperm has been the essential first step of starting a sexually developed life, and this is also the first step in embryonic research. However, the team of Hanna has done this without using the fertilized eggs.
What does this mean for the future?
This method is the beginning of new horizons for researching into how stem cells can form numerous organs in the embryo being developed and might one day lead to growing organs and tissues for transplantation utilizing the synthetic embryo models.
In their new research, Hanna’s team started to produce a synthetic embryo model exclusively from stem cells of naïve mouse. These stem cells had been cultured for several years in a dish; the team didn’t start with a fertilized egg. It is obvious that this approach is tremendously valuable since it could, to a great extent, evade the ethical and technical issues that have always been involved in the usage of natural embryos in biotechnology and research.