Scientists at the University of Cambridge hope to create a human embryo using the technique within a year. BABIES made without sperm or eggs may become a reality within a year after a major breakthrough.Scientists have created the world’s first artificial embryo – using two types of mice stem cells.
Now experts say the same technique could be used to produce human embryo.
The breakthrough – at the University of Cambridge – could boost research into the causes of infertility and miscarriage.
The technique allows boffins to create an unlimited supply of embryos for lab research.
They currently have to develop human embryos from eggs donated through IVF clinics – and these are in short supply.
Study leader Professor Magdalena Zernicka-Goetz said: “We are very optimistic that this will allow us to study key events of this critical stage of human development without actually having to work on [standard] embryos.
“Knowing how development normally occurs will allow us to understand why it so often goes wrong.”
We are very optimistic that this will allow us to study key events of this critical stage of human development… Knowing how development normally occurs will allow us to understand why it so often goes wrong
Professor Magdalena Zernicka-GoetzUniversity of Cambridge
The failure of an embryo to implant itself into the uterus is a major cause of early pregnancy loss but the changes that take place in the human embryo at this stage remain unknown. Once a mammalian egg has been fertilised by a sperm, it divides multiple times to generate a small, free-floating ball of stem cells. Embryonic stem cells develop into the different types of cell that make up the human body, such as the heart, skin and liver.
Experts say a similar human embryo could follow within a year, helping scientists investigate infertility and miscarriage
The “extra-embryonic trophoblast” stem cells form the placenta and “primitive endoderm” stem cells form the yolk sac.
The mice embryos were made using a form of tiny scaffolding and two of these types of stem cell – the embryonic and extra-embryonic cells.
Previous attempts with just embryonic cells failed.