synthetic mouse embryo pictured next to natural embryo

Lab-made mouse embryos grew brains and beating hearts, just like the real thing

Scientists coaxed mouse stem cells to grow into synthetic embryos that began developing hearts and brains, just like the real thing.

The lab-made embryos, crafted without any eggs or sperm and incubated in a device that resembles a fast-spinning Ferris wheel full of tiny glass vials, survived for 8.5 days. That’s nearly half the length of a typical mouse pregnancy. In that time, a yolk sac developed around the embryos to supply nutrition, and the embryos themselves developed digestive tracts; neural tubes, or the beginnings of the central nervous system; beating hearts; and brains with well-defined subsections, including the forebrain and midbrain, the scientists reported in a study published Thursday (Aug. 25) in the journal Nature (opens in new tab).

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