Researchers from the #RoyalNetherlandsAcademy and #MaastrichtUniversity have for the first time used #mousestemcells to create a #preimplantationartificialembryo. They are calling this model a “#blastoid.”

Although scientists had already known how to engineer the inner as well as the outer parts of the #blastocyst using stem cells, until now they hadn’t been successful in combining the two. Previously, a #postimplantationembryo model called the “#gastruloid,” had been developed by another lab, but this model was representative of a later stage of #embryonicdevelopment. This is the first study that has produced a pre-implantation artificial embryo, which contains #trophoblasts- cells that give rise to the #placenta.

In order to create these artificial embryos, researchers first grew #embryonicandtrophoblaststemcells separately and then introduced the two cell types to a combination of molecular factors, which induced #cellcommunicationandselforganization leading to the formation of blastoids.

When these blastoids were transferred into a mouse’s uterus, they got implanted just like natural embryos; the cells divided and started fusing with the blood vessels of the mother. However, these artificial embryos do not develop further and do not enter the post-implantation stage of embryonic development. Nonetheless, as of now it does seem like too big a leap since humans and mice are very different entities. Would a human uterus respond to these embryos in the same way? We can’t be sure as of yet.

Two major roadblocks need to be cleared for the development of #syntheticblastocysts having greater developmental potential: (1) development of embryonic structures that contain all three cell layers of the embryo, and (2) demonstration of the fact that these structures can actually get implanted and develop further.

These blastoid models would support the advancement of science by allowing the study of implantation in great detail and would also help in the development of drugs that can help prevent certain types of #infertility. Other studies like finding better #contraceptives, or identification of #epigeneticmarks that can lead to diseases later in life would also be helped by these artificial embryos.

The discoveries made using this model would help improve the life of everyone involved- the mother, the #fetus, and the baby it develops into.

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