Israeli Scientists Created a Mechanical Womb to Successfully Grow Mice Embryos. Are Humans Next?

Scientists were able, for the first-time in tech history, to create a mouse embryo outside the womb. Researchers from Israel’s Weizmann Institute of Science claimed that they were able to successfully grow more than 1,000 mouse embryos in six days using a mechanical process.

Mice embryos are grown in a mechanical device

The study was published on Mar. 17 in Science. The first part of the experiment saw the team remove the mice’s mothers’ wombs five days later.

Dr. Jacob Hanna, one of the researchers, told The New York Times that his team had successfully taken an embryo from a female mouse and grown it for 11 days. The lab-grown embryos look identical to the real thing.

Also read: Preterm Babies Possibly Mistaking Mothers’ Uterus For a Hostile Host During Preterm Labour

After seven years of research, the team built the machine that helped them in their research. It is made up of an incubator and ventilation system.

Each embryo is placed in a vial filled with a special, nutrient-laden liquid. The mice are gently spun by a wheel so they don’t become attached to their temporary home wall.

The wheel protects embryos from forming or dying in the mechanical womb. The ventilator attached to the mouse provides oxygen and maintains their environment’s pressure and flow.

The study found that a mouse takes 20 days to become a fully grown adult. The mechanical womb Dr. Hanna and his research team have so far been able to sustain the mice for 11 days.

The embryos require blood supply, not just nutrients. This is the next challenge the scientists plan to tackle. One possible solution was to include artificial blood supply, which could link the placentas and the mice.

Will humans be next?

Dr. Hanna and his team didn’t create the device to disrupt nature. Their process is being used to examine how environmental conditions and genetic mutations affect the growth of a foetus while in the womb.

The short answer is that scientists don’t plan to use the machine womb to create human embryos or help to develop them.

To study the development of organs and tissues, scientists have used worms and frogs (both non-mammals) before this study. published the UCSB study that showed animals like frogs and other worms share similar tissues and organs.

These findings have important implications in medicine, including the study of cancer and birth defects, as well as tissue engineering.

Joel Rothman, an associate professor of molecular Biology at the University of California Santa Barbara, stated that studies have shown that animals very distantly related to each other share something that was not expected.

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