Breakthrough stem cell platform could shed light on mysteries of early human development

phys.org | 8/8/2019 | Staff
smnth28 (Posted by) Level 3
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A new method for making stem cell colonies that mimic parts of early human development could help investigate important questions in maternal and child health, such as: What chemicals pose risks to developing embryos, and what causes certain birth defects and multiple miscarriages?

The technique, developed at the University of Michigan, imitates stages in embryo development that occur shortly after implantation in the uterus. This is when the amniotic sac begins to form and when the stem cells that would go on to become the fetus take their first steps toward organization into the body. The embryo-like or "embryoid" structures don't have the potential to develop beyond small colonies of cells.

System - Hundreds - Thousands - Structures - Medicine

The system can reliably produce hundreds or thousands of embryo-like structures needed to determine whether a medicine is safe for a pregnant woman to take in very early pregnancy, for instance.

The team terminated the experiments by the end of the fourth day.

Team - Engineers - Fu - Associate - Professor

A team of engineers and biologists—led by Jianping Fu, an associate professor of mechanical engineering—coaxed stem cells into organizing and behaving in ways that resemble aspects of embryonic development. They developed these three models:

The epiblast, a colony of stem cells that comprises most of the cells that would go on to form the fetus.

Beginnings - Sac - Posterior - End - Epiblast

The beginnings of the amniotic sac and the posterior, or rear end of the epiblast after it has been through the very first steps of differentiation. In an actual embryo, these posterior cells go on to become the lower portion of the fetus.

The beginnings of the amniotic sac and the anterior, or upper end of the epiblast—marked at this stage merely by the absence of posterior cells. In an actual embryo, these cells would go on to form the upper portion of the fetus, including the head and mid-section.

Embryoid - Models - No

Embryoid models No. 2 and 3 only contain a...
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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