First synthetic animal organs grown in lab by scientist
Israeli scientists have grown various animal organs without fertilizing an egg, raising the idea of "synthetic" animals being made from stem cells without the use of donor eggs or sperm.
The scientists at the Weizmann Institute of Science were able to grow a mouse embryo in a petri dish from stem cells to form a brain, gut, nervous system, and beating heart.
"The embryo is the best organ-making machine and the best 3D bioprinter — we tried to emulate what it does," said Professor Jacob Hanna, the head of the research team.
"Our next challenge is to understand how stem cells know what to do, how they self-assemble into organs and find their way to their assigned spots inside an embryo."
The scientists have insisted the development of the artificial womb is not intended to grow humans but instead could be used to grow individual organs for transplants.
The mouse stem cells were cultured for years to be reprogrammed back to their "naive" state, when they have the potential to specialize into different cell types and grow into any organ.
"Importantly, this opens the door to similar tests with human cells," Arias said. "However, there are many regulations to go through first from the aspect of the research, which human systems lack."