Stem-Cell-Based Human Gastruloid Allows Peek into “Black Box” of Embryonic Development

June 17, 2020 | Biotechnology

Reading time: 4 minutes

For your daily Biotech news, Lab.Equipment has sourced this interesting article from Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology News (GEN) for you:

During implantation, the human embryo is hidden inside a “black box.” Although peeking inside has been prohibited by the 14-day rule, which restricts in vitro studies to preimplantation events, a new experimental model, one that incorporates embryonic stem cells, has been used to observe processes that ordinarily occur in embryos only after the first 14 days of development. By revealing these events, which include the emergence of the human body plan, the new model could help scientists deliver boon after boon: infertility treatments, new approaches to preventing miscarriages and birth defects, platforms for generating transplant tissues, and treatments for many diseases.

The new model is a human gastruloid, a three-dimensional assembly of stem cells that was developed by scientists from the University of Cambridge and the Hubrecht Institute in the Netherlands. These scientists reported that their gastruloid can capture certain aspects of gastrulation, the process by which an embryo transitions from a rounded shape to an elongated shape. During gastrulation, three distinct layers of cells are formed in the embryo that will later give rise to all the body’s major systems: the ectoderm layer will give rise to the nervous system; the mesoderm layer, the muscles; and the endoderm layer, the gut.

The scientists described their human gastruloid in a new study (“An in vitro model for early anteroposterior organization during human development”) that appeared in Nature. “Our model produces part of the blueprint of a human,” said Alfonso Martinez-Arias, PhD, professor at the University of Cambridge’s department of genetics, who led the study. “It’s exciting to witness the developmental processes that until now have been hidden from view—and from study.”

To make gastruloids in the lab, the scientists placed defined numbers of human embryon... Read the full article at the GEN – Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology News Blog.

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