The world’s first “synthetic embryo” is already causing controversy

The world's first "synthetic embryo" is already causing controversy
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Scientists have created the world’s first lab-grown ‘synthetic embryo’, in a move that has reignited a bitter ethical debate in science.

A team of researchers at Israel’s Wizemann Institute of Science, led by molecular geneticist Joseph Hanna, has succeeded in creating a synthetic mouse “embryo” in the lab without a fertilized egg or uterus, potentially giving us a glimpse of what’s going on in the early stages. human pregnancy as well.

This new embryo model, as detailed by the team article published this week in the magazine Cellwas able to mimic all the structures of the early body, “including the precursors of the heart, blood, brain and other organs,” as well as “support” cells in the placenta and other tissues. Megan Munsie, a stem cell researcher at the University of Melbourne, who was not involved in the research, writes pregnancy. a piece for Conversation.

The study may have larger implications.

“It’s a crucial stage: a lot of pregnancies are lost in people at this stage, and we don’t really know why,” Munsie said. “Having models provides a way to better understand what might be going wrong and maybe understand what we can do about it.”

However, the embryonic model survived only eight of the 20-day mouse embryonic cycle, a critical drawback that Renewal Bio’s stated purposea company founded by Hanna to commercially fund this research.

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

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

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

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

He is not alone in his criticisms.

“Synthetic human embryos are not an immediate prospect,” said James Briscoe of the Francis Crick Institute in London. he said Guardian in response to a new study.

“We know less about human embryos than we do about mouse embryos, and the ineffectiveness of mouse synthetic embryos suggests that translation of findings to humans requires further development.”

Regardless of where researchers stand on the topic, most seem to agree that it’s still too early to start talking seriously about the ethics of synthetic human embryos, but it’s progress nonetheless.

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

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