World’s First ‘Synthetic Embryo’ Already Causes Controversy

World's First 'Synthetic Embryo' Already Causes Controversy
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Scientists have created the world’s first lab-grown “synthetic embryo”, a breakthrough moment in science that has reignited a fierce ethical debate.

A research team at the Wizemann Institute of Science in Israel, led by molecular geneticist Joseph Hanna, has succeeded in creating a synthetic mouse “embryo” in the lab without fertilized eggs or a uterus, potentially allowing us to get an idea of ​​what’s going on in the early stages. in human pregnancy

This new embryo model is the team’s article published this week in the magazine CellIt was able to mimic all the structures of an early body, including “precursors of the heart, blood, brain, and other organs”, as well as “support” cells such as those found in the placenta and other tissues. As University of Melbourne stem cell researcher Megan Munsie, who was not involved in the study, wrote, “pregnancy for a piece Speech.

The research could have important implications.

“This is a very important stage: many pregnancies are lost in humans at this stage, and we don’t really know why,” Munsie said. “Having models provides a way to better understand what could go wrong and possibly insights into what we can do about it.”

However, the embryo model survived only eight of the 20-day mouse embryonic cycle; this is a critical disadvantage. Renewal Bio’s stated goalthe company founded by Hanna to commercially fund this research.

The purpose of the startup is develop synthetic human stem cells in an attempt to “solve” human health crises, a science that experts say won’t be ready for decades.

In short, Bio Renewal wants to create embryo-stage versions of humans so it can harvest tissues for transplants.

Who are the critics spoke with MIT Technology Review said it was not the time to talk about the creation of synthetic human embryos, especially larger political context and the controversies surrounding the research.

“It’s not absolutely necessary,” Nicolas Rivron, a stem cell scientist at the Vienna Institute of Molecular Biotechnology, told the magazine, “so why would you do that?”

He is not alone in his criticisms.

“Synthetic human embryos are not an immediate possibility,” said James Briscoe of the Francis Crick Institute in London. said Guard in response to new research.

“We know less about human embryos than mouse embryos, and the inefficiency of mouse synthetic embryos suggests that translating the findings to humans requires further development,” he added.

It seems that wherever researchers are on the topic, most agree that it’s too soon to start talking seriously about the ethics of synthetic human embryos – but still, it’s a breakthrough.

READ MORE: This startup wants to clone you into an embryo for organ harvesting. [MIT Technology Review]

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