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As Infertility Among Women Grows, Scientists Develop Artificial Embryo

As Infertility Among Women Grows, Scientists Develop Artificial Embryo


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Sumera B. Reshi

She is a careerist and has succeeded to carve a niche in this patriarchal society but in this rat race of competing with men, she lost something very precious in life, a dream of being a mother. More and more women are either delaying marriages or settling down in later years which has created fertility issues for them. Infertility in today’s world affects approximately 6.7 million women in the United States and Asia fertility rate has fallen by 39 per cent in a 20-year period from the late 1960s.

People across the globe have tried everything to create life and in vitro fertilization (IVF) in current times have become number one choice for many couples, however, oftentimes IVF doesn’t give 100 per cent success, thus leaving the couple in grief and misery.

As goes the adage, every cloud has a silver lining, after misery comes peace & after failure comes success. After IVF scientists have succeeded in making an artificial embryo-like structure. This certainly is a historic breakthrough that could give hope to hopeless and also shed light on the enigma behind the creation of life. Scientists at Cambridge University were able to make what looked like an early “anatomically correct” mouse embryo.

A similar technique could potentially be used to build an artificial model of a human embryo, which might help scientists puzzle out reasons why some early embryos fail to develop in the womb.

Such is the impact of this breakthrough that one of the scientists described it as a “beautifully conceived masterpiece”.

The model of the mouse embryo was made by combining two different types of stem cells, which can turn into any kind of tissue needed to make an animal, from the brain to skin cells. One type of the cell forms the fetus and another develops into the placenta.

“Both the embryonic and extra-embryonic cells start to talk to each other and become organized into a structure that looks like and behaves like an embryo,” said Professor Magdalena Zernicka-Goetz, who also led the research team

Moreover, in 2017 scientists in Cambridge, U.K., built a convincing replica of a six-day-old mouse embryo by combining two types of stem cells. The group is now trying to experiment the same with human cells, as are a few others, including one at Rockefeller University in New York.

What’s emerging, say scientists, is a new technology, which they call “synthetic embryology,” and which they believe may let them probe the fascinating opening chapters of human development in detail for the first time.

That’s been difficult to do so because normal embryos don’t keep growing more than about a week in a lab. Key events after that are largely inaccessible to science: they occur in the darkness of the human uterus even before most women know they’re pregnant.

According to the researchers, the artificial embryo is unlikely to develop into a healthy fetus as it would probably need the third form of stem cell, which develops into the yolk sac that provides nutrition. The same team recently developed a technique that allows blastocysts to develop in the lab up to the legal limit of 14 days in the UK.

They have already grown these artificial mice embryos to the equivalent stage, and they are now working on using the same technique to develop artificial human embryos.

Besides, scientists at Michigan plan to manufacture embryoids by the hundreds. These could be used to screen drugs to see which cause birth defects, find others to increase the chance of pregnancy, or to create starting material for lab-generated organs. But ethical and political quarrels may not be far behind.

“This is a hot new frontier in both science and bioethics. And it seems likely to remain contested for the coming years,” says Jonathan Kimmelman, a member of the bioethics unit at McGill University, in Montreal, and a leader of an international organization of stem-cell scientists

The artificial or synthetic embryo could help people to parent at their will without worrying about the age. Certainly, artificial embryo if become a success will be a landmark discovery in the field of embryology and human history.


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