Last Updated: September 07, 2023, 19:17 IST
In a major scientific milestone, a team of five scientists at Israel’s Weizmann Institute have successfully created “complete models of human embryos”, from stem cells. What is more surprising to learn is that these embryo models were created without using sperm, eggs or womb. The human embryo was grown “outside the womb up to day 14.” On September 6, the Weizmann Institute of Science released a statement, on their official site, informing about their big feat. This research was published in Nature. The institute stated that the scientists have cultured the embryo in the lab from the stem cells. In addition, these synthetic embryos feature all the “structures and compartments characteristic” similar to actual 14-day embryos like “the placenta, yolk sac, chorionic sac and other external tissues.”
In case you are wondering, these structures and characteristics ensure the “dynamic and adequate growth” of the synthetic embryo. This significant research will help in understanding the earliest moments of human lives. The team of five scientists were led by Professor Jacob Hanna, who revealed that only the first month is the technical part, while the rest of the eight months is all about the growth of the embryo. Elaborating on the same, Professor Hanna said, “The drama is in the first month, the remaining eight months of pregnancy are mainly lots of growth. But that first month is still largely a black box.” He also added that the synthetic embryo will “closely mimic the development of a real human embryo.”
Professor Hanna said, “Our stem cell-derived human embryo model offers an ethical and accessible way of peering into this box. It closely mimics the development of a real human embryo, particularly the emergence of its exquisitely fine architecture.” A BBC report informed that instead of just sperm and eggs, scientists have used naïve stem cells as the starting material. The report added that the stem cells were reprogrammed to gain the potential to form any type of tissue in the body.
With this research, the scientists believe that these synthetic embryos hold the potential to throw light on different aspects of early embryo development. In addition, this research can contribute to the improvement in the success rates of in vitro fertilization (IVF) and testing the safety of medicines during pregnancy.