Researchers said Wednesday that unprecedented vision of a human embryo in the early stages of development has provided important clues about the indistinguishable cells and how they become specialized cells that we have created.
When an embryo begins to form, it is made up of stem cells, which can become part of the body, from brain matter to bone tissue.
Human stem cells begin to assume these specific roles during a process called gastric (early stage of fetal development), which begins in the third week after conception.
So far, the process has mostly been a black box, inaccessible to direct view.
According to protocol rules, laboratory-grown stem cells can only be artificially injected for two weeks. It is also impossible to notice “gastroparesis” during pregnancy.
The new findings are published in the journal NaturalDirect data on how stem cell transformation occurs.
Experts not involved in the study hailed it as a “milestone” and a “rosette stone” for future research in developmental biology.
Until now, scientists have relied on models of rats and non-human animals to help better understand gastric regulation, but the degree of similarity of the process in humans has always been in doubt.
The data released on Wednesday provide the basis for measuring the effectiveness of experiments on other mammals, and this will be in the future.
Human cells contain all the genes of a person, but gastritis develops early when certain genes are activated. This is the first step in determining whether a cell becomes a part of our blood or a brain cell.
“You have a kind of explosion in cell diversity,” said Shankar Srinivas, a research professor at Oxford University, who described the process as “beautiful.”
At this point the embryonic cells begin to accumulate in specific areas.
The Srinivasan team isolated a sample from a donated human embryo and then used a process called single-cell RNA sequencing to identify the active genes in each of the more than 1,000 individual cells.
The resulting diagram shows which cells are activated to take on certain roles, and which are located weeks old in the womb.
By matching the results with the observations of the mouse nuclei, the researchers found more similarities than differences.
“The mouse is actually a great model for humans,” Srinivas said.
However, there were important differences such as the presence of primary blood cells in humans than in mice.
The scientists also noted an important absence: at this point the rat embryos would have begun to form the nervous system, and these substances were not present in the human model.
This finding will help raise the 14-day threshold for embryonic development for the study, which would have completely ruled out studying the embryo even at the onset of the nervous system.
Both the scientists involved in the study and the outside observer noted the exceptional rarity of the model derived from the UK’s human development biological resource.
Srinivas said his laboratory has spent five years on the waiting list – changing the rules for how expired embryos are collected will have to wait longer in the future.
His team carried out genetic testing and physical tests to determine which model was the best representative of normal human development.
But they said it would be better to have more of these models for comparison and that a change in the rules might be needed to allow this.
Darren Griffin, a geneticist at the University of Kent, said: “This is an important document on which many have based their future findings.
Harry Leach, a stem cell biologist at Imperial College London, called it a “valuable resource” that would facilitate further advances in stem cell biology and regenerative medicine.
Source: Scientific warning
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