First published on the blog of the Society of Internet Professionals (SIP).http://www.sipgroup.org/. SIP is a not-for-profit, Toronto (Canada) based International organization to connect, learn and share. Our Vision is to provide the opportunity to leverage technology to have an inclusive future for everyone. Since 1997, SIP has spearheaded many initiatives, educational programs, and networking events.
Artificial embryos open ways to think about the dawn of life in the universe, and they are redefining how life can be created. Despite debates on ethical issues related to this topic, the research focused on artificial embryos dives into the very beginnings of a human life opening exciting points of view and controversial matters.
At the university of Cambridge, UK a new embryo was created only from existing mouse embryos, only from stem cells. Neither eggs nor sperm has been used and the scientists watched how life started to define itself in the creation of these embryos. They started to connect, communicate and interact and in several days generated a distinctive embryo in the form of a bullet mouse shape. The resulted embryo has grown to the appearance of a mouse embryo and presents embryo-like structures. This way of creating embryos is totally different from what we know so far, opening a doorway to generate new life in a manner not previously known to us.
In the same time with the UK researchers, other scientists from Rockefeller University and the University of Michigan created similar artificial embryos.
Although it is still ways to show that they would finally transform into a being, this fascinating technology is available now. It shows that a mammal life can possibly emerge without the fecundation of an egg to a sperm. Not reaching the final point yet – the birth of a mammal from artificial embryos – the scientists also have some doubts regarding the robustness of the new structures and /or the process.
Nevertheless, the magnificent process of creation of “synthetic” embryos unfolds the powerful potential the stem cells have and how they can self-organize to create a new strikingly similar structure. The process of creation of the artificial embryos appears magical, so it is expected that the scientists want to research how the embryo in the early stages starts taking on their specialized roles.
With the success in producing the “synthetic” embryos of a mouse, the researchers are planning the next step: create an artificial embryo from human stem cells. During the generation of artificial human embryos, the scientists intend to engage technology and various tools to understand the process of embryo growth. This will bring on lots of data from the early stages of embryos creation and will shed light in the process of their development.
It appears that the study of the early development of the stem cell through this new process will drop some light into the mysterious beginnings of the human life. On the other hand, it poses important ethical questions related to their intrinsic essence. For example, when would an artificial embryo start experiencing pain or how different are synthetic embryos from natural ones to the extent that we can mistake one for another. In order to answer these questions, the researchers intend to perform more studies to understand the nature of the embryos evolution, grasp their potential and help clarify the ethical concerns.
Author: Cory Popescu