A live, “synthetic” mouse Embryo with a brain and beating heart was generated by University of Cambridge researchers in a “world first” using only a mix of stem cells. It may have developed further until it had a spine, intestines, and muscles, at which point it would have been a live mouse. The experiment’s results could help solve puzzles about human development and even save lives. For instance, research on lab-grown organs that could be used for organ donation and assist address the current donor shortage could aid in improving doctors’ understanding of the factors that lead to miscarriages in the first trimester of pregnancy.
Our mouse Embryo model “grows not just a brain but also a beating heart, all the components that go on to build up the body,” claims senior author and professor Magdalena Zernicka-Goetz. It’s incredible how far we’ve come. This has been a long-standing objective for our community, and after ten years of arduous work, we have finally succeeded.
Throughout Embryo development, certain stem cells will transform into organs, bones, and other tissues. Other stem cells, on the other hand, will develop into “daughter” cells that the body stores for a later time, like when we get hurt and need to make new tissue to recover. These three Embryo stem cells had started to generate a brain, heart, and yolk sac, exhibiting the fundamentals of healthy development. Sadly, they only lived for 812 days, or roughly 20 days less than it takes a mouse to be born.
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