How to build a ‘robust’ bioengineered human being
Posted On June 7, 2021
Scientists have created the first “robust” bioengineer to replicate human embryos and develop stem cells in a lab.
Their research, published today (Dec 21) in Science, demonstrates that it’s possible to use the human body to produce cells that are “robusted” in the lab and can then be transplanted into patients.
The team at Columbia University Medical Center created three different types of embryos using stem cells, including a mouse and a human fetus.
“The embryos were created in three different labs in three separate continents,” said lead researcher Dr. Anil Jain.
They are now using them to grow human stem cells for transplantation into patients suffering from a range of illnesses and disorders, from cancer to epilepsy.
One of the main challenges for this type of project is to make sure that the cells produced in the laboratory don’t “break” in a way that could cause disease.
In the new study, Jain’s team also demonstrated that the stem cells they created were viable in vitro, meaning they could survive a variety of stresses.
These findings have led to the development of bioengineers to create engineered human embryos, which can be used for transplanting into patients, the team said.
We’re really excited about this,” said Jain, who is also an assistant professor of pathology and the department of biomedical engineering.
Jain said the team’s work builds on a similar study in the United States, in which a team of scientists in the US developed a bioengineering tool to generate human embryos from stem cells.
This new study is the first to be able to produce a “robuster” human embryo, which is a type of cell that can be reprogrammed into any other type of cells and used to produce any other kind of cells, the scientists said.
This technique is called reprogramming and can be done by using cells taken from different species, Jains team said in a statement.
The team said they are also now working on using their technology to create stem cells from embryonic stem cells taken in the womb, to make the cells that will eventually be used to create human embryos.
To make their cells, Jans team injected them with a specific DNA strand, called a CRISPR-Cas9 gene, which allows them to target specific genes to be repurposed to produce the desired cell types, Jaina said.
The scientists then used an artificial womb to generate the embryos, and then implanted them into mice, to see how they performed.
They found that the embryos were able to generate embryonic stem cell lines from the stem cell line they implanted into mice.
After two days of development, the embryos started to show the characteristics of human embryos in terms of muscle, brain, and bone.
For each of the three types of cells they produced, they found that each had different characteristics, including muscle mass, muscle tone, and different types in the bone marrow.
A mouse embryo is shown.
Image credit: Columbia University Medicine The team has created a set of genes that were specifically targeted to be expressed by the embryos’ embryonic stem lines.
These were able, for example, to produce muscle, which they call “bio-muscle,” while the bone-musculature cells produced bone.
Jain, Jana Ranganathan, and their colleagues noted that although the team has shown that embryonic stem-cell lines can be successfully reprogramed into other types of stem cells and can even be used as stem cells themselves, it still remains to be seen how well these cells would survive in the human organism, which would be an important question.
While the research is still in its early stages, the research team said it is already “one step closer” to developing a human-made embryo.