Synthetic Mouse Embryos Produced Without Egg Or Sperm Could Help Pinpoint The Cause Of Failed Pregnancies

Illustration of the process in which eggs are artificially inseminated.

A recent breakthrough in stem cell research has helped scientists create the first-ever synthetic embryos produced without eggs or sperm. By using solely mouse stem cells, Dutch researchers from Maastricht University in the Netherlands have managed to craft an embryo-like structure called a blastocyst, reports.

Blastocysts are hollow spheres that usually form within a few days after an egg is fertilized. These spheres are made up of less than 100 cells that divide into two groups: and outer layer of cells which goes on to form the placenta and a small cluster of cells in the middle, which later develops into the actual embryo.

However, the Dutch team has succeeded in creating blastocysts in the lab without using a fertilized egg. Instead, the researchers experimented with two types of mouse stem cells: embryonic stem cells, which have the potential to form a whole embryo, and trophoblast stem cells, which can develop into placenta.

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