Cambridge University Develops Synthetic Human Embryos – Are Lab-Grown Babies the Future?


The University of Cambridge and CIT Lab have developed Synthetic Human Embryos using stem cells.

The development is expected to serve as an alternative to eggs or sperm for a baby’s development.

The complete details from the Cambridge-Caltech lab are yet to be published, but here are some of the reported findings from the research.

Impact on Genetic Disorders

According to scientists, the model embryos resemble natural embryos in the earliest stages of human development.

The model is expected to serve as a door toward treating genetic disorders and minimizing biological causes of recurrent miscarriage.

An Early Stage Model

Scientists in the UK are currently allowed to cultivate embryos in the lab for up to a legal limit of 14 days. They then pick up the course of development much later along by looking at pregnancy scans and donated embryos for research.

Understanding the early stages, for that matter, is of huge importance, and therefore, the current breakthrough serves as a ray of hope for researchers.

According to Robin Lovell-Badge, the head of stem cell biology at the Francis Crick Institute in London, modeling normal human embryonic development using stem cells helps in gaining tons of information about the beginning of human development and the issues that can arise in the process.

Lab-Grown Babies for Real?

According to the researchers, the model structures, which are currently grown from a single embryonic stem cell, had reached the beginning of a developmental stage called “gastrulation,” but as the process continues, it does not yet have a beating heart, gut, or the beginnings of a brain.

Although the model did show the presence of primordial cells, which are the precursor cells of egg and sperm, that are the building blocks of a child’s development in the mother’s womb.

So, for now, the idea of a lab-grown baby from synthetic embryos is still in the making.

No Clear Regulations on Stem Cells

As the news has gained popularity, there are also concerns over the lack of an established legal framework governing stem cell-derived models of human embryos.

According to James Briscoe, who is an associate research director at the Francis Crick Institute, there is an urgent need for regulations to provide a framework for the creation and use of stem cell-derived models of human embryos.

The downside to the research is that it raises serious ethical and legal issues. Currently, the lab-grown entities fall outside the current legislation in the UK and many other countries, therefore, it’s a challenge for both policymakers and the scientific community.

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