Science & Technology
August 3, 2022 | 8 comments
It's an impressive breakthrough, but where could it lead ? Image Credit: Pixabay / fernandozhiminaicela
Embryo-like structures with a brain, intestines and a beating heart have been created by scientists in a lab.
The technically impressive, though morally questionable achievement was reported by researchers at the Weizmann Institute in Israel who used stem cells from mice to create 'synthetic' embryos without the need for sperm, eggs or fertilization.
"Remarkably, we show that embryonic stem cells generate whole synthetic embryos, meaning this includes the placenta and yolk sac surrounding the embryo," said Prof Jacob Hanna.
"We are truly excited about this work and its implications."
In the future, synthetic embryos could be used in place of real animal embryos in medical testing, while also offering new sources of cells and tissue for human transplantation.
Those worried about the possibility of scientists creating synthetic creatures using this technique, however, need not worry as the embryos do not have the capacity to grow into actual animals.
There are also no plans at present to create synthetic human embryos.
"Synthetic human embryos are not an immediate prospect," said Dr James Briscoe.
"We know less about human embryos than mouse embryos and the inefficiency of the mouse synthetic embryos suggests that translating the findings to human requires further development."