The study recently published in the journal Nature entitled”Human hybrid chicken embryos illuminate a key stage of development” describes the revolutionary breakthrough as follows: “A new technique reveals the first stages of human development without the need for human embryos.
Indeed, a group of stem cell scientists has accomplished an unprecedented “feat” by successfully combining artificial human cells with a chicken embryo in a strange scientific experiment aimed at better understanding how life develops. Simply because scientists had never been able to understand and answer the question of how specific cells in a developing human embryo organize themselves into muscles or organs, while others become bones and nerves. However and according to them, everything has changed with a new experiment conducted by researchers at Rockefeller University in New York.
A group of scientists led by Dr Ali Brivanlou achieved the unthinkable by transplanting human cells grown in a Petri dish onto a chicken embryo and observed how the cells reacted.
In the study published in Nature, researchers at Rockefeller University revealed the internal machinations of what are called “organizing cells”. These cells are supposed to play a crucial role in how the human body takes shape.
Speaking of the discovery, Dr. Brivanlou said:
“No one knew what happened after the cells attached themselves to the uterus.”
The new “revolutionary” study aims to circumvent the ethical issues surrounding the use of human embryos in laboratory experiments. Countries such as the United States, for example, have banned the use of human embryos. So the experts tried to follow the rule by culturing embryonic structures derived from human embryonic cells in the laboratory, so the scientists grafted the cells onto chicken embryos that are considered equivalent to that of a human.
In the study, scientists explain that the organizing cells began the formation of a chicken nervous system as the chicken embryos grew. This medical discovery has been well received by researchers around the world.
Dr Martin Blum, a biologist at the University of Hohenheim in Germany, said the discovery could end the use of human embryos in laboratories.
“For the moment, I could not imagine a case where a human embryo (at an advanced stage of formation) would be needed to answer fundamental questions.”
Martin Pera, a stem cell researcher at Jackson Laboratory in Bar Harbor, Maine, is impressed by the study and expresses:
“There are many things this system will lead to,” he says. “Including a better understanding of defects in the early development of human embryos that can lead to miscarriages, and the ability to compare embryo type structures with human stem cell cultures to better define their capabilities,” he reports in Nature’s study.
The next step, the researchers say, is to determine exactly how human organizing cells influence the embryo to form. This breakthrough could help scientists understand how to manipulate human stem cells into specific tissues or structures as part of therapies to regenerate organs and tissues.
The front page image is not included in the magazine, it just illustrates the article. Image Credit: Lennart Nilsson