The ‘miracle’ of human embryo development is set to become much less of a mystery. Thanks to a new technique, scientists can now recreate in a culture dish a hitherto poorly-understood part of the process – implantation of the embryo into the womb lining. The human embryo pictured, for example, was grown outside of the womb for a full two weeks (the internationally-determined ethical limit) and is shown here at twelve days after fertilisation, having been treated with special nutrients to promote attachment to the culture dish (mimicking implantation) around day six. Development can be seen to be progressing as expected with cells already adopting their different fates (revealed by the different coloured stains). It is hoped that studying human embryo development and implantation in culture will help researchers discover why early miscarriages are common and possibly why in vitro fertilisation often fails.
BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences the website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biomedicine. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.
BPoD is also available in Catalan at www.bpod.cat with translations by the University of Valencia.