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Researchers Have Grown ‘Human Embryos’ from Skin Cells. What Does That Mean, And Is It Ethical?

The breakthrough potentially opens up new ways to study the earliest phases of human development.

Researchers have successfully grown model versions of early human embryos by “reprogramming” cells from human skin. The breakthrough potentially opens up new ways to study the earliest phases of human development, learn more about developmental disorders, infertility and genetic diseases, and perhaps even improve the success of IVF treatment.

In a study published in Nature today, a team led by our colleague Jose Polo discovered that when skin cells are treated in a particular way, 3D structures similar to early human embryos form. A US-Chinese research group led by Jun Wu also reported a similar feat, creating structures that resemble a very early stage of the embryo called a “blastocyst”.

While this is an exciting scientific advance, it will also be vital to consider the ethics behind this and other emerging approaches to modelling human development.

READ MORE AT THE CONVERSATION

PHOTO CREDIT: Army Medicine

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