March 21, 2021

Weekly reads: embryo pubs stir things up, organoids crying, & more

Weekly reads: embryo pubs stir things up, organoids crying, & more


This was an unusual week in that three papers in a sense collided together related to embryo production and growth, raising new research possibilities but also serious ethical questions.

New research: what is an embryo & what is not?

The first two Nature papers reported generating the most realistic models of human embryos from scratch to date. The human embryo-like structures, called blastoids, were made from cells in the lab.

You can read more about them in this great piece here on The Niche by Ricki Lewis.

The third paper was also in Nature and came from a team led by Jacob Hanna. His team reported growing mouse embryos all the way through mid-gestation in the lab in vials (no mothers, no uteri), which is a big jump further than anything done before. The paper is entitled, “Ex utero mouse embryogenesis from pre-gastrulation to late organogenesis.”

I’m going to write another piece in a few days on the challenges and potential ethical difficulties that this new research raises. It’s not so simple to define how this is going to play out, especially when the different work is integrated moving forward.

Weekly reads: embryo pubs stir things up, organoids crying, & more
Organoids that are like tear glands. The lacrimal gland organoids produce a tear-like fluid (red).Credit: Yorick Post/Hubrecht Institute.

Organoids that “cry”

Recently researchers have been making organoids of unusual types that make secretions including snake venom. The latest is organoids that are essentially tear glands. They can secrete tear-like substances. Here is the original article in Cell Stem Cell: Exploring the human lacrimal gland using organoids and single-cell sequencing.

The health potential here is to treat dry eye conditions, which can sometimes be severe.

More pubs & opinion



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