Israeli scientists have developed the world's first synthetic embryo outside the womb using stem cells cultured in a petri dish. In a major breakthrough, these cells were cultured without the use of fertilized eggs, bypassing the need for sperm.

The study offers hopes of growing tissues and organs for transplantation using synthetic embryo models. The study was published in the journal Cell. 

  

Israeli scientists create world's first synthetic embryo, without sperm

WHAT?

Israeli scientists have developed the world's first synthetic embryo outside the womb using stem cells cultured in a petri dish. In a major breakthrough, these cells were cultured without the use of fertilized eggs, bypassing the need for sperm.

HOW?

The study offers hopes of growing tissues and organs for transplantation using synthetic embryo models. The team tried to emulate what an embryo does and built on two previous advances which include an efficient method for reprogramming stem cells back to a naïve state and using an electronically controlled device that keeps the embryos bathed in a nutrient solution inside of beakers that move continuously, simulating the way nutrients are supplied by material blood flow to the placenta.

The study published in the journal Cell highlights the potential of naïve pluripotent cells to self-organize and functionally reconstitute and model the entire mammalian embryo. The team grew the embryo from mouse stem cells that had been cultured for years in a petri dish.

The researchers separated the stem cells into three groups, one contained cells intended to develop into embryonic organs themselves and the other two groups were pretreated for only 48 hours to overexpress one of two types of genes: master regulators of either the placenta or the yolk sac.

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The team is now looking to understand how stem cells know what to do how they self-assemble into organs and find their way to their assigned spots inside an embryo. "Because our system, unlike a womb, is transparent, it may prove useful for modeling birth and implantation defects of human embryos,” Hanna added.