Israel Creates Early Human Embryo Model Using Stem Cells
In a groundbreaking achievement, researchers from the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel have successfully created a human early embryo model using stem cells. This achievement marks a significant advancement in medical science and technology.
The researchers published their findings in the latest issue of the American magazine Science. They were able to culture the human early embryo model outside the womb until it reached a developmental stage equivalent to 14 days of human embryonic development.
The study builds upon the researchers’ previous experience in synthesizing stem cells in mouse embryo models. They started with human cells that have the ability to differentiate and develop into various tissues and organs, known as pluripotent stem cells. These cells were reprogrammed to a previous state in life that corresponds to the seventh day of natural human embryogenesis.
By dividing the pluripotent stem cells into three groups, the researchers were able to differentiate them into the three types of tissues necessary to maintain the embryo: the placenta, the yolk sac, and the extraembryonic mesodermal membrane that forms the chorionic sac.
Under specific conditions, these three groups of cells were mixed together and developed into cell aggregates, with around 1% of them self-forming into complete embryo-like structures. These stem cell-based structures developed normally outside the womb for eight days, reaching a stage equivalent to 14 days of human embryonic development.
The artificial model accurately mimics all structures and features of the embryo at the same stage of development, including the placenta, yolk sac, chorionic sac, and external tissues necessary for growth. However, the researchers emphasized that the model is not identical to a natural embryo.
Studying the period after fertilization has proven to be difficult due to ethical and technical reasons. This human embryo model can help researchers determine whether early embryos develop normally, potentially preventing birth defects. Additionally, the research will aid in understanding the causes of infertility and promote the development of new technologies for tissue and organ transplantation.
Furthermore, the model opens up opportunities for experiments that cannot be performed on living embryos, such as testing the effects of drugs on fetal development.
The creation of this early human embryo model using stem cells is an incredible achievement that has the potential to revolutionize the field of reproductive biology and advance medical technologies. It is a significant step forward in understanding embryonic development and addressing various medical challenges in the field.