A team of scientists at the University of Cambridge has developed an artificial mouse embryo-like structure capable of forming the three major axes of the body. The technique, reported today in the journal Nature, could reduce the use of mammalian embryos in research.
The past few years has seen an explosion in the number of studies using organoids – so-called ‘mini organs’. While they can help scientists understand human biology and disease, some in the field have questioned their usefulness. But as the field matures, we could see their increasing use in personalised and regenerative medicine.
Researchers at the University of Cambridge have managed to reconstruct the early stage of mammalian development using embryonic stem cells, showing that a critical mass of cells – not too few, but not too many – is needed for the cells to being self-organising into the correct structure for an embryo to form.
The Balfour Chair of Genetics was established at Cambridge in 1912. As part of its centenary celebrations the Department of Genetics has produced a short film following the development of the subject in the University over the past 100 years.