The embryo is called artificial because it was created without a fertilized egg, and it is expected that the study of the structure in the near future will provide more accurate information about how the organs and tissues of normal embryos develop.
Scientists also believe that the procedure could reduce the number of animal experiments and, in the future, a new source for culturing human cells and tissues could be obtained. For example, the skin cells of a leukemia patient can be converted into bone marrow cells in order to treat the disease with their help.
Last year, the same research group developed a mechanical uterus that allowed normal fetuses to develop for days outside the mother’s womb.
In the course of the research, some cells were treated with chemicals, so that their genetic program by which the placenta or corpus luteum developed from them was “turned on”. Other cells develop into other organs and tissues without interference.
Most stem cells did not develop an embryo-like structure, but about half were organized into regions where various tissues and organs had grown. When compared to normal mouse embryos, the artificial embryos were 95 percent identical in terms of internal makeup and genetic makeup. As far as scientists can tell, the organs formed were working.
According to Jacob Hanna, the head of the research, the artificial embryos are not real embryos, and they do not have the possibility of developing into a living animal, or at least they did not when they were implanted in the womb of mice.
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