Why do scientists create artificial embryos, and what are they anyway?

The first human embryo-like structures are formed from stem cells. This marks a milestone in the development of artificial embryos. This may help scientists study the causes of early miscarriage.

A team from the University of Cambridge announced that they are the first humans artificial embryos They made: embryo-like structures made of stem cells grown to a stage corresponding to embryos slightly older than 14 days old. This is the legal limit for studying normal fetuses in the UK.

This could help researchers study the causes of early miscarriage and organ development. But some scientists want to tighten regulations in this area.

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What are artificial embryos?

The term is somewhat misleading, as these structures are not really artificial, nor do they look exactly like embryos. They resemble early embryos, which are tiny balls of cells that arise from the fertilization of a sperm cell by a sperm cell. But they are then made from stem cells grown in a lab. Stem cells are cells that can develop into different types of cells.

These structures are not entirely synthetic, as the stem cells originally came from an embryo. Furthermore, the structures appeared to differ in certain regions from normally formed embryos. Therefore, some prefer to call them “stem cell-based embryonic models”.

What does this step mean?

Until recently, artificial embryos consisted only of animals, such as mice and monkeys. Good Magdalena Zernicka-Goetz of the University of Cambridge announced that it is working on developing human equations. On June 14, she announced that her team had developed human clones to a stage where a real embryo implants in the uterus and begins to develop various tissues, including precursor cells that eventually go on to form sperm and eggs.

“In real embryos, this corresponds to the stage between day 7/8 and day 14,” says Żernicka-Goetz. She presented her work at the annual meeting of the International Society for Stem Cell Research in Boston, Massachusetts, she reported Watchman. The full results have not yet been published in a peer-reviewed scientific article.

Why do you make artificial embryos?

One of the reasons is that they can be created in unlimited numbers, while reserves are in short supply IVF embryos, which is used in early developmental research. All embryos made from the same stem cells are also more or less genetically identical, which is useful for studying their response to different experimental conditions. It is also faster and easier to genetically modify stem cells growing in a petri dish to understand the functions of different genes.

Are there other benefits?

An important advantage is that in most countries, including the United Kingdom and the United States, normal embryos studied in a dish must be destroyed after 14 days. This has to do with the fact that real embryos can grow into a fetus.
These rules do not apply to artificial embryos, so this will allow researchers to study the development of embryos for a longer period. This is a milestone for a better understanding of organ development and the causes of early miscarriage.

Should there be new rules for artificial embryos?

These are already in the works in the UK, but nothing has been announced elsewhere, including in the US. It has been in force in the Netherlands since 2002 fetus law, which states, for example, that research on embryos is only permitted with embryos that remain after IVF treatment. Nothing in this law relates to the use of artificial embryos, as these are recent developments. This is why the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport is working on it Amendments to the embryos law.

Policymakers might consider basing the threshold on what stage of development the artificial embryo has reached, rather than a specific time limit like the 14-day rule, says the developmental biologist. James Briscoe from the Francis Crick Institute in London. “Maybe the threshold is the formation of a particular organic system.”

What would happen if artificial embryos were placed in the uterus?

We don’t know because it has never been done before and it would be illegal. But animal research by a Chinese team suggests that, given the current situation, this will not lead to pregnancy. When the artificial monkey embryos were manufactured and transferred to eight females, it appeared that three of them entered into pregnancy, but after a few days the pregnancy ended in miscarriage, It was reported in April.

This may be because the artificial embryos are not identical to the normal ones. “We can’t assume it completely mimics human embryonic development,” says the reproductive biologist. Roger Stormy from the University of York Medical College in the United Kingdom.

How can artificial embryos develop medicine?

They can help better understand early embryonic development. We cannot see exactly what is happening in the womb at each stage of pregnancy. The 14-day rule prohibits the study of human embryos in the laboratory after this stage. That period is one mystery black boxsays Stormy.

Knowledge about this process can provide more information about what goes wrong when an early pregnancy fails. It can also help understand how organs form and grow. This may one day allow doctors to grow organs for transplantation in the laboratory.

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Megan Vasquez

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