In a significant advance for life science, Israeli scientists have managed to grow mouse embryos in artificial uteri – completely outside the body
While COVID-19 has captured lives, economies and entire countries, scientists have continued their work to expand the understanding available to humanity.
So far this year, scientists at the University of Tokyo have figured out how to create an expensive steak meat in a petri dish, and Antarctic researchers have found “strange creatures” living in a black pitch, -2.2 ° C deep on the Filchner-Ronne Ice Shelf. .
Another research team used electrical pulses to release a woman’s lifelong severe depression after a few minutes. Then a team of researchers used the oldest light in the galaxy to find out that the universe is about 14 billion years old.
Growing embryos outside the living body
Now, Israeli scientists led by Professor Jacob Hanna of the Weizmann Scientific Institute have successfully grown embryos outside a living body. Scientists have wanted or tried to grow embryos outside the womb since the 1930s, but these experiments have never been successful.
For seven years, the team led by Professor Hanna has created a two-step process for culturing mouse embryos in an artificial uterus. They extracted 250 embryos from pregnant mice, then placed these on a laboratory plate and got the balls to adhere to it as if it were the uterine wall.
Precisely in this step the team saw the embryo double and triple size, as it grows in three different layers.
Professor Hanna said: “For us, this is the most mysterious and the most interesting part of embryonic development, and we can now observe it and experiment with it in amazing detail.”
What could this research mean for humans?
The concept of raising a person outside the womb remains a distant dream today.
But this new way of growing embryos can help the team understand why so many pregnancies are not implanted and why the window for mammalian implantation is so short. They want to use stem cells to create the embryo the next time, which will also help explore how conditions of formation can later lead to developmental disorders.
They could even answer fundamental questions about why stem cells cease to be stem cells.
According to this experiment, genetic code can function as “domains”
“We think you can inject genes or other elements into the cells, change the conditions or infect the embryo with a virus, and the system we’ve shown will give you results consistent with development in a mouse uterus.
“If you give an embryo the right conditions, its genetic code will function as a predefined sequence of domains, arranged to fall one after the other. Our goal was to recreate those conditions, and now we can watch, in real time, how each domain hits the next. “
Read the full study in Nature.