Scientists in Germany have replicated the formation of a mouse embryo in a dish, allowing them to analyse its development in much more detail.
The team at the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Genetics, Berlin, recreated structures similar to parts of an embryo – called trunk-like-structures - by growing mouse embryonic stem cells in a special gel.
The gel provided support to the cultured cells and oriented them in space, allowing a better self-organisation.
This innovation will help scientists understand far better how a mouse develops, which will help researchers in studies on other mammals, such as humans.
Previously it was only possible to get snapshots of some of the complex processes during decisive phases of development and it is an important step in the replacement of mouse models, as scientists can now observe embryogenesis of the mouse directly and continuously in a dish.
“The new method recapitulates the early shape-generating processes of embryonic development in the Petri dish. Thus, we can get more detailed results more quickly, and reduce the number of animals we would need to get the same insights.”
Alexander Meissner, Managing Director of the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Genetics.
Cover image depicts comparison of nine-day old mouse embryo grown in the womb (left) and a trunk-like-structure grown in a dish (right).