Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Out-of-Body Experiment
25 July 2016

Out-of-Body Experiment

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.

Written by Ruth Williams

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