Synthetic Embryos Created Without Egg or Sperm, May Help In Human Fertility

WHAT’S BEING CLAIMED:

  • Experts have created synthetic embryos without sperm and eggs in a lab with the use of mouse cells.
  • If this experiment concerns some, then it is a relief to hear that such a method of producing many genetically identical human embryo-like structures capable of implantation is not feasible.
  • But the scientists indicated that his process may help with human fertility.

When a mammal egg is fertilized, it develops into a blastocyst a few days later. This blastocyst is a hollow sphere formed by a few cells divided into an outer layer, which later develops into the placenta with a small cluster at the center, which then develops into the future embryo.

Nicolas Rivron, along with colleagues from Hubrecht Institutes in The Netherlands, published the new study in the journal Nature on May 2. The team assembled stem cell lines that correspond to these sub-types in a manner that would trigger self-organization.

Bundles of mouse stem cells self-organized into proto-embryos initiating pregnancy were implanted into mouse wombs. These embryos were attached to the womb lining of live mice and grew for a few days.

The study states, “Trophoblast and embryonic stem cells cooperate in vitro to form structures that morphologically and transcriptionally resemble embryonic day 3.5 blastocysts, termed blastoids. Like blastocysts, blastoids form from inductive signals that originate from the inner embryonic cells and drive the development of the outer trophectoderm.”

The team did not expect to produce a viable embryo, however, and the experiment neither did so.

Robin Lovell-Badge from the Francis Crick Institute in the United Kingdom, said, “This is a pity for basic research because it would be very useful to have a limitless supply of human blastocyst-like stage embryos to understand the relevant cell-cell interactions required to make normal embryos and to study mechanisms of implantation.”

Researchers pointed out that the breakthrough could still provide important insights – particularly into why many pregnancies fail at an early stage during implantation.

While about two-thirds of in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatments fail, often during implantation in the uterus, the cause for this remains largely unknown.

“All the synthetic embryos have the cell types needed for the formation of a whole organism,” the researchers added, “They will help us better understand the hidden processes at the start of life, to find solutions for fertility problems, and to develop new drugs without the use of lab animals.”

Source: Tech Times

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