Synthetic ‘Live’ Embryo with Brain and Heart Formed With Mouse Cells

A synthetic embryo with functioning organs was developed by researchers at the University of Cambridge.

QUICK FACTS:
  • Researchers in England have created a ‘live’ synthetic embryo using stem cells found in early mammalian development, The National Pulse reported.
  • “By inducing the expression of a particular set of genes and establishing a unique environment for their interactions, the researchers were able to get the stem cells to ‘talk’ to each other,” the summary of the experiment explained.
  • The team of researchers, led by Professor Magdalena Zernicka-Goetz, developed the living embryo without the use of any sperm and eggs.
  • “Our mouse embryo model not only develops a brain, but also a beating heart, all the components that go on to make up the body,” Zernicka-Goetz said in a statement. “It’s just unbelievable that we’ve got this far. This has been the dream of our community for years, and major focus of our work for a decade and finally we’ve done it.”
  • Scientists claim the experiment could also provide life-saving information into some of the issues with human development.
LEAD RESEARCHER ON DEVELOPING AN EMBRYO WITH MICE STEM CELLS:

“What makes our work so exciting is that the knowledge coming out of it could be used to grow correct synthetic human organs to save lives that are currently lost,” Zernicka-Goetz said. “It should also be possible to affect and heal adult organs by using the knowledge we have on how they are made.”

BACKGROUND:
  • Last month, researchers at the Weizmann Institute in Israel developed the world’s first synthetic embryo, using a similar process of stem cells from mice, The Guardian reported.
  • The experiment is thought to be paving the way for discovering new ways to transplant cells and tissues in humans.
  • In 2021, the same team manufactured a “mechanical womb” that allowed mouse embryos to grow outside of the uterus for several days.