Using stem cells from rats, scientists have succeeded in creating artificial embryos, and they believe that these are the world first artificial embryos to be created.
A team from the University of Cambridge created a structure that closely resembles an embryo of a natural mouse. Two different types of stem cells and a 3D scaffold were used in the embryo creation, reports ABC.
There were limited successes in the previous attempts since different cells that could coordinate with each other were required in the early embryo development.
According to the researchers, they are hopeful their work will be used in improving fertility treatments. In addition, a useful insight of the early embryo development may be provided and illustrated by this work.
However, there is a strict regulation on experimentation on human embryo. It was banned after a period of 14 days.
After a mammalian egg is fertilized, it generates the embryonic stem cells also known as the body’s master cells by dividing itself.
Not all rosy with Artificial embryo
After they are generated, these stem cells cluster together in in the embryo and form a blastocyst- the rudimentary embryonic structure.
According to the work published in the journal science, the team from Cambridge University used a second kind of a stem cell (extra-embryonic trophoblastic stem cells) which forms the placenta and the other embryonic stem cells in creating their artificial embryo.
“We are aware that interactions that take place between the different types of stem cells are very important when it comes to development, but the remarkable thing that is illustrated by our new project is that this is a real partnership as these cells interact and guide each other,” said Prof Magdalena Zenricka Goetz, a lead researcher.
However, the researchers added that their artificial embryo cannot develop into a healthy foetus. And for it to grow, probably there is a need of bringing in the third form of stem cell that would provide nutrition after developing into york sac.
Recently in the previous months, this same team had come up with a technique that would allow for the development of blastocysts in the laboratory up to14 days, which is the legal limit in the United Kingdom.
Already, the team has grown their artificial mice embryos to the equivalent stage and they are now busy doing experimental researches on how the same technique can be used in developing artificial human embryos.
If the technique succeeds, it will allow experiments to be carried out on embryo for a period of more than the current limit of 14 days.
“Obviously, it would not be within the current regulatory framework, though we would have a careful thought about how it should be overseen,” Said Prof Jonathan Montgomery, an expert in healthcare law from the University College London.
Prof Jonathan also added that it is still very early but if the team will manage to create the partnership that is necessary to get started and nutrition that is required to sustain it, it will be vivid that they are expecting the opportunity of developing human being’s embryos for quite a substantial period in vivo.
Some structures which are seen in the early stages of embryos have failed to develop; this is according to prof Robin Lovell-Badge of the Francis Crick institute.
This, in addition to other related problems should be solved before further development of the technology.
He also added that the necessary cells required for human embryos were not available hence human equivalent embryo could not be developed.