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Human embryo

Facts for Prelims (FFP)

 

Source: IE

 Context: Scientists have managed to grow a human embryo-like structure in a laboratory without using traditional sperm or eggs.

  • This remarkable achievement involved using a combination of stem cells, which can differentiate into various cell types, and chemicals to create an embryo-like structure that mimics the molecular characteristics of an early human embryo.
  • The process involved a mixture of stem cells and chemicals, with only 1% of the mixture spontaneously forming different types of cells needed for foetal development, including those providing nutrients, those guiding body development, and cells responsible for structures like the placenta and umbilical cord.

 

Importance:

  • The significance of this research lies in the fact that ethical constraints make it challenging for scientists to study the early stages of embryo development after implantation in the uterus. These early stages are crucial because most miscarriages and birth defects occur during this period.
  • These lab-grown embryo-like models cannot be used for pregnancy, and they are typically destroyed after 14 days of study, in line with legal and ethical regulations in many countries. The 14-day limit on embryo research corresponds to the point when embryos naturally complete implantation and become individuals.
  • These models have allowed scientists to investigate genetic and environmental effects on embryo development, shedding light on genetic defects and potential treatments for various conditions.