Whole synthetic mouse embryos were cultured for the first time

embryons synthetiques souris

⇧ [VIDÉO] You may also like this partner content (after the announcement) In order to overcome the shortage of organs, synthetic biology is evolving so that it may one day produce functional human organs. Last year, researchers at the University of Virginia managed to develop a nearly complete mouse embryo from stem cells. This year, other scientists have succeeded in creating complete synthetic embryos, complete with an intestinal tract, a primitive brain and a beating heart. If the success rate remained low, the result paves the way for embryoid development. Stem cells have this ability to differentiate into any type of cell. Cultivated in vitro (in the laboratory), they can contribute to embryonic or extraembryonic tissues after microinjection into mammalian embryos. However, it was previously unknown whether stem cells cultured in isolation could give rise to whole embryo-like structures. For the first time, researchers at the Weizmann Institute in Israel have discovered that mouse stem cells can self-assemble into fully synthetic embryonic structures, meaning without requiring an egg or sperm. The culture was carried out outside the uterus of a female mouse, inside a bioreactor (called a “mechanical uterus”) and from stem cells grown in a petri dish. This mechanical uterus had already been tested last year by the same team of researchers, in order to allow natural mouse embryos to develop outside the uterus for several days. For their new study, the researchers used the same device to feed mouse stem cells for more than a week, or about half the length of a mouse’s gestation. 95% match with natural mouse embryo, but low success rate. The synthetic embryos developed to day 8.5, complete with an intestinal tract, neural tube, early brain, and a beating heart; but also the placenta and the yolk sac that surrounds the embryo. In addition, some of the stem cells were pretreated with chemicals that activated genetic programs that allowed their transformation into a placenta or a yolk sac. “Our results underscore the plastic potential of naïve pluripotent cells to self-organize and functionally reconstitute and pattern the entire mammalian embryo beyond gastrulation. [étape précoce du développement embryonnaire] “, write the authors of the study. Summary of the creation of advanced synthetic embryos, up to day 8.5. The embryos were self-assembled from mouse stem cells in an ex-utero setting (using a “womb mechanical”). © Tarazi, Hanna et al. 2022 Ultimately, most stem cells failed to form embryo-like structures: 50 out of 10,000 clusters developed correctly. However, scientists welcome a 95% match with a natural mouse embryo of the same age, after analyzes of the genetic profile of the cells, and the functional organs formed. Towards the culture of synthetic human embryos? Professor Jacob Hanna, who led the study, told the Guardian that the synthetic embryos were not “real” embryos and did not have the potential to become living animals, or at least did not when transplanted into the wombs of the female mice In addition to the interest of studying how the s stem cells form the developing embryo’s various organs (and possible diseases), the breakthrough opens the way to growing synthetic human embryos from stem cells. “In Israel and many other countries, such as the United States and the United Kingdom, it is legal to do this, and we have ethical approval to use human induced pluripotent stem cells. This is an ethical and technical alternative to use of embryos,” Hanna told The Guardian. Opinion on the subject is divided, some believe that before starting to create embryoids a regulatory framework must be established. This is the case of Dr. James Briscoe, who did not participate in the research: “Synthetic human embryos are not an immediate prospect. We know less about human embryos than we do about mouse embryos, and the ‘inefficiency’ of synthetic mouse embryos suggests that translating the results to humans requires further development.” Source: Cell
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