Creation of life in a laboratory has been the work of fiction here and there — but not anymore, as scientist have taken a major step in direction of creating life in a laboratory without using sperm or eggs.
In experiment two different kind of stem cells were merged together in a dish; both of the stem cells combined into an early form of an embryo.
This creation of embryos from stem cell would allow an unlimited supply of identical embryos, which would be used for various medical research purposes.
Not only that, this finding is expected to be useful in weeding out the causes of infertility i.e. embryos failing to implant in the womb.
Moreover, it will also be quite useful for finding the effects of medical treatments through testing.
This research was carried out on mice — which could be used in creation of mice without using sperm or eggs in a timespan of three years.
In theory this technique can be replicated in humans, however, it will take up to 20 years or even more before the technique is perfected to create human embryos through the stem cell.
Professor Nicholas Rivron of Maastricht University, the lead researcher, told that it takes three years to develop a perfect mouse embryo through this technique but a human embryo would take a couple of decades. This research will be useful for drug testing and curing infertility.
He said: ‘As you know, embryos are very precious, and it is impossible to use to test drugs on them as you don’t have the numbers.’
‘With blastocysts you can open up the numbers. This will allow screening medicines in the future.’
He added: ‘I do not believe in using blastocysts for human reproduction. This is ethically very questionable; this would be clones of somebody who is already alive.’
‘Human cloning is totally forbidden.’
Asked what the stumbling block is that stops the ball of cells implanting, Professor Rivron said: ‘We actually don’t know. This is a fascinating question. They look extremely similar to normal blastocysts and generate many cell types.’
‘However, the cells are not properly organized. They look like a disorganized embryo. Hopefully we will discover in the next three years.’
‘This is the first time we create structures in the lab from stem cells which have the potential to form the whole organism.’
‘The whole organism includes the baby, and the extra tissues – the placenta and the yolk sac.’
‘This is the first time as far as we know.’
This research was published in Nature.