June 3, 2020

The Niche

Knoepfler lab stem cell blog

New stem cell pubs including artificial human embryo work

In this post I list some recent interesting stem cell and science pubs including artificial human embryo research.

Fig 4d Nat Cell Bio 2019 Simunovic et al, artificial embryos
Artificial human embryos. Screenshot of Fig 4d Nat Cell Bio 2019 Simunovic et al. From the caption, “Molecular signature of EMT: downregulation of the adherent junction protein E-CAD and the expression of N-CAD in the BRA+ region. Images are representative of three imaged 3D colonies stained with the BRA, E-CAD and N-CAD combination.”

Engineered human embryo research continues.

Scientists for years have been advancing the types of embryo-like structures made from both human and other creature’s cells. In a new Nature Cell Bio pub entitled, “A 3D model of a human epiblast reveals BMP4-driven symmetry breaking”, a team led by Eric Siggia pushed this further. See an image from the paper I’ve included that shows signs of the primitive streak and epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT) in the embryo-like structures.

They report being able to model a human epiblast of a sort from human embryonic stem cells. From the abstract, “Here, we use human embryonic stem cells to generate an in vitro three-dimensional model of a human epiblast whose size, cell polarity and gene expression are similar to a day 10 human epiblast. A defined dose of BMP4 spontaneously breaks axial symmetry, and induces markers of the primitive streak and epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition. We show that WNT signalling and its inhibitor DKK1 play key roles in this process downstream of BMP4.”

You can read a couple past posts I did on pubs about artificial embryos here and here.

You can imagine that engineered human embryo research raises ethical issues too. In an NPR piece by Rob Stein, he has this quote on that level:

“It’s very exciting work,” says Insoo Hyun, a bioethicist at the Case Western Reserve University and Harvard Medical School who was not involved in the research. “But it does send folks down the road to thinking very seriously about where the limits may be ethically for this work.”

What do you think of engineering human embryo-like structures?

Here are some other interesting recent pubs and news.

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