Embryonic stem cells are an incredible feat of nature. As an embryo grows, these cells transform from a miniscule cluster of identical cells to individual organs, such as the heart, stomach, and nervous system.
Stem cell research holds the key to understanding how bodies grow as dictated by genes, and how birth and developmental defects can occur. However, studying how these cells develop is difficult.
Now, researchers at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel have created a method to grow mouse embryos outside the womb after their initial implantation. This advance has the potential to completely transform the way scientists look at genetics, birth, and conception — helping researchers understand how millions of identical stem cells can turn into full bodies with specific cell types and functioning organs.
“This is the first time that mammalian development from gastrulation to full organ formation has been cultured outside of the uterus,” says Jacob Hanna, a researcher at Weizmann. “These findings underscore that self-organizing properties of the embryo and its stem cells can be preserved ex utero under the right conditions. For the first time, our research offers scientists a platform for expanding embryos...
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