Compare laboratory mouse embryos and real ones: their brains and hearts are indistinguishable

Scientists made mouse stem cells grow into synthetic embryos that began to develop

heart and brain like real fetuses.

Laboratory embryos created without anyeggs or sperm survived for 8.5 days. This is almost half the duration of a typical mouse pregnancy. During this time, a yolk sac developed around the embryos to provide nutrition. In doing so, the individuals themselves developed a digestive tract, neural tubes, or rudiments of the central nervous system, beating hearts, and a brain with well-defined subsections, including the forebrain and midbrain.

“This has been the dream of the scientific community for many years and the focus of our work for a decade. We finally did it,” the scientists said in a statement.

Natural (top) and synthetic (bottom) embryos. You can compare the formation of the brain and the heart.
Image credit: Amadeus and Handford

Unlike previously published works,the researchers used three types of mouse stem cells. One type helped the embryo to appear, and the other two transformed into the tissues of the placenta and the yolk sac. Throughout the experiment, the scientists observed how these three types of stem cells interacted, exchanging chemical messages and “colliding” with each other.

Studying such processes will give scientists clues about how the earliest stages of embryonic development occur in humans and what happens when things go wrong.

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