Mouse Embryo Made from Stem Cells

This is cool, it's a gastrula, an early-stage mouse embryo, made by Cambridge University biologists from stem cells not only without any of that annoying fertilization stuff (sex is so 20th century... does anybody do it any more?), but also without inserting a somatic-cell nucleus into an egg cell (the typical cloning technique). They didn't use gametes at all, but stem cells instead. The resulting developing structures look like gastrulas and seem to have all three 'germ layer' cell types (the word 'germ' indicates that all the rest of the body's organs and structures germinate from these cells) that are supposed to be there in triploblastic organisms (like mammals) -- endoderm (gut cells, intestine etc.), ectoderm (skin, eye and nerve cells) and mesoderm (eventually muscle cells, bone, circulatory system etc).

They say: "This demonstrates the remarkable ability of three stem cell types to self-assemble in vitro into gastrulating embryo-like structures undertaking spatio-temporal events of the gastrulating mammalian embryo."

I'd be very interested to know if these artificial laboratory-made triploblastic gastrulas will continue to develop into complete organisms as embryos are supposed to do, or if they will fail somewhere further along in the process. Maybe they should try to implant some into female mice and see what happens. Apparently the goal at this early point is to use the technology to better understand how embryos form.

Abstract of the paper (which is behind a pay wall)

News story

Wikipedia on gastrulas

Wikipedia on the three 'germ layers'

[Image: 1f5f1f29-a8fe-445a-b84d-b94d5e75438d-640x786.jpg]
Fascinating research - how to make more embryos. With a world population of only (around) 7 billion we need this kind of research to survive.

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