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Breakthroughs in synthetic mouse embryos

Scientists have created mouse embryos from stem cells, that have developed a brain and a heart, without using either eggs or sperm.

The team from the University of Cambridge, UK, and Caltech, USA, produced an embryoid that is the closest yet to a naturally developing embryo in the uterus. Unlike other synthetic embryos, this model reached the point where the entire brain and a beating heart began to develop. Also last month, researchers at the Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel, using a similar method, announced they had made mouse embryoids that resembled real embryos of 8.5 days after fertilisation. In the future, it is hoped that it will be possible to create synthetic embryos from human cells and tissues, for transplantation. "It's just unbelievable that we've gotten this far. This has been the dream of our community for years, and the major focus of our work for a decade, and finally we've done it," said Magdalena Zernicka-Goetz, from Cambridge, author of the study. The paper is published in Nature.



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