- An Israeli company wants to simulate a successful experiment with mouse embryos with human cells.
- The company, Renewal Bio, wants to use the technology to “make humanity younger and healthier”.
- The use of synthetic human embryos has raised ethical concerns among the scientific community.
A biotechnology company based in Israel wants to replicate a recent experiment that successfully created an artificial mouse embryo from stem cells — only this time using human cells.
Scientists at Weizmann’s Department of Molecular Genetics cultured “synthetic mouse embryos” in a jar without the use of sperm, eggs or a uterus, according to an article published Aug. 1 in the journal Cell. completed, Insider’s Marianne Guenot reported.
The replica embryos couldn’t develop into fully formed mice and were therefore not “real,” Jacob Hanna, who led the experiment, told the Guardian. However, scientists observed that the synthetic embryos had a beating heart, blood circulation, the beginning of a brain, a neural tube and an intestinal tract.
Hanna told MIT Technology Review after the success of the mouse experiment that he is in the process of replicating the results with human cells, including his own.
“The embryo is the best organ making machine and the best 3D bioprinter — we’ve tried to match what it does,” Hanna said in a statement.
Other experts say significantly more research will be needed before synthetic human embryos are within reach.
Renewal Bio, the Israel-based company founded by Hanna, aims to use this science for organ tissue transplants that can solve infertility, genetic diseases and problems related to old age.
For example, the MIT Technology Review reported that blood cells from the embryo could potentially be used to stimulate immunocompromised systems.
According to the company’s website, according to Renewal Bio, some of the world’s most pressing problems are “falling birth rates and rapidly aging populations.”
“To solve these complex and complex problems, Renewal Bio aims to make humanity younger and healthier by leveraging the power of new stem cell technology,” the website reads.
Omri Amirav-Drory, the acting CEO of Renewal Bio, told the MIT Technology Review that the company didn’t want to “promise too much” or scare people with the potential technology, but that Hanna’s experiment was “amazing.”
Using human embryo clones for research has often raised ethical concerns within the scientific community, including the potential that synthetic embryos can experience pain or sensation, according to a 2017 article published in the journal eLife.
Hanna told the MIT Technology Review that he could potentially get around these ethical concerns by creating synthetic human embryos with “no lungs, no heart, or no brain.”
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