A mouse embryo has grown in an artificial uterus – humans can be next
Mouse bowl technology also needs other improvements, Hanna says. It was not able to grow mice from a fertilized egg until the 12th day. Instead, he collected 5-day-old embryos from pregnant mice and transferred them to the incubator system, where they lived for another week.
The problem now is that mouse embryos develop properly if they can be attached to a real mouse uterus, at least for a short time. The Hanna team is adapting the procedure so that mice can be fully developed in vitro.
Hanna says she’s not interested in taking mice to the lab. Its purpose is to see and manipulate early development. “I want to see how the program develops,” he says. “I have a lot to learn.”
Long-term research into living human embryos developed in the laboratory is currently banned under what is now called 14 day rule, a guideline (and law in some countries) that embryologists are prohibited from growing human embryos for more than two weeks.
However, a major scientific organization, the International Society for Stem Cell Research or the ISSCR, has plans. recommend lifting the ban and allowing some embryos to grow longer.
Hanna said that means she can grow human embryos in her incubator, as long as the Israeli ethics committee ends the session, which she believes they would.
“Once the guidelines are updated, I can apply, and it will be accepted. It’s a very important experiment,” says Hanna. “We need to see human embryos gastrulate and organ formation and start to get disturbed. Human embryos grow in three weeks, four weeks, five weeks “I think we need to at least consider these experiments. If we can reach an advanced human embryo, we can learn a lot.”
Hanna argues that to make such experiments more acceptable, human embryos could be modified to limit their ability to fully develop. One option would be to install genetic mutations in a calcium channel so that the heart never beats.
I asked Hanna if she was looking for ethics or advice from religious people. He said he didn’t. Instead, he is awaiting the advice of his professional body and ethics permission from his university.
“ISSCR is my rabbi,” he says.
There may be unexpected practical applications of human embryos growing in vessels. According to Stanford University physician and bioethicist William Hurlbut, the system suggests how primitive organs, such as liver or pancreatic cells, can be acquired from human embryos in the first trimester so that they can be further grown and used in transplant medicine. Hanna agrees that this is a potential direction for technology.
“The scientific frontier is moving from molecules and test tubes to living organisms,” Hurlbut says. “I don’t think the organ harvest is that far away. It might finally come. But it’s very narrow, because the limit of one person is not the limit of another. “