It was hard to imagine this at all until a while ago, and now scientists are showing the evidence – they’ve grown complex life forms in a petri dish that can pump blood through a tiny beating heart and gradually developing muscles and nerves.
And we’re talking about the cells that make up a mouse embryo, grown entirely in the lab from stem cells, which are cells with the potential to develop any type of cell in the body because they have the ability to differentiate into cells of other types. And although scientists have previously boasted of their achievements in this field, namely synthetic organs called organoids (a miniaturized and simplified version of an organ), their creations have never been as complex as the embryo just described. – Watching an embryo develop is a wonderful thing. Amazingly, we have the diversity of tissues present in authentic mouse embryos. This model shows that we can encourage cells to perform complex developmental programs in the right direction, explains one of the study authors, Christine Thisse of the University of Virginia.
What’s worth noting is that the embryo is not yet a complete unborn mouse and is not yet capable of developing into one because it is still missing key components, including the brain. However, the complexity of this experiment is a huge step forward that allows researchers to look hopefully to a future where they will be able to grow the complete, working organs we need for transplantation in the lab. – Human organs are made up of many cells that come from different parts of the growing embryo (. ) The only way to get the full variety of cells needed is to develop a system in which all the blastic cells are present. Engineered embryos are just making this possible for us, they add.
And what about those missing elements, like brain fragments? According to the researchers, they are caused by chemical signals telling the cells that they don’t need them, but they hope that in the future they will be able to modify them appropriately to achieve their goal of a complete embryo. – With the techniques we have developed, we should be able to – at some point – control the formation of the embryo, which will lead us to embryos that contain all the tissues and organs, Bernard Thisse explains. And it is certainly worth keeping our fingers crossed, because embryos of this type will be powerful tools in the fight against various diseases – they will not only allow us to learn more about diseases, but also to grow new organs in the laboratory if a transplant is needed – quickly and without having to wait for a donor.