An artificial embryo-like structure has been created in the laboratory for the first time in a historic breakthrough that could shed light on the “magic” behind the creation of life.

Researchers at Cambridge University were able to make what looked like an early “anatomically correct” mouse embryo.

While stressing it was “nowhere near” something that could grow into an actual animal, one of the scientists said this would “without a doubt” eventually be possible.

The same technique could potentially be used to build an artificial model of a human embryo, which might help scientists work out reasons why some early embryos fail to develop in the womb.

Commenting on the research, described in the journal Science, one scientist in the field described it as a “beautifully conceived masterpiece”.

The embryo model was made by combining two different types of stem cells, which can turn into any kind of tissue needed to make an animal, from brain to skin cells. One type forms the foetus, while the other develops into the placenta.

Professor Magdalena Zernicka-Goetz, who led the research, said: “Both the embryonic and extra-embryonic cells start to talk to each other and become organised into a structure that looks like and behaves like an embryo.

“It has anatomically correct regions that develop in the right place and at the right time.”

Fellow researcher Sarah Harrison, a PhD student, said using human stem cells to create a similar structure in the lab was “something certainly to explore”. … see more

source: Independent UK