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Still Waters

Lab-grown cells mimic embryo development

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Still Waters

Scientists in Europe have created embryo-like structures that mimic a crucial yet enigmatic stage of human development.

The structures, created from stem cells and called gastruloids, are the first to form a 3D assembly that lays out how the body will take shape. The gastruloids developed rudimentary components of a heart and nervous system, but lacked the components to form a brain and other cell types that would make them capable of becoming a viable fetus.

Researchers are creating ever more sophisticated artificial structures to study embryo development in the lab. The latest method for making these structures, published in Nature today1, could shed light on the causes of pregnancy loss and early developmental disorders, such as congenital heart conditions and spina bifida.


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