Science 2 min read

Blastocyst-Like Structures From Stem Cells of Mice

Image courtesy of Shutterstuck

Image courtesy of Shutterstuck

In a breakthrough in embryogenesis, a joint team of researchers from Japan and the U.S. used mice stem cells to create blastocyst-like structures successfully.

Blastocysts are structures containing inner cell masses (ICM) relevant to the development of embryos. In humans, the formation of blastocysts begins five days following fertilization.

To date, blastocysts are typically used in performing in vitro fertilization, specifically in culturing fertilized eggs before implanting them into the uterus of patients.

This is the first experiment wherein scientists attempted to convert differentiated cells (stem cells) into totipotent cells like blastocysts.

Seven years ago, Kime and his colleagues were able to convert pluripotent mouse cells from an implanted-like state to a pre-implanted state. It was the first time that they observed the formation of structures similar to embryo blastocyst.

Referring to their past study, Cody Kime, a co-author of the study from the RIKEN Center for Biosystems Dynamics Research (BDR) in Japan, said:

“Instead of discarding what we had found because it was not our primary objective, we decided to find out if it was real.”

3D-Printing Blastocyst-Like Structures

In their new study published in the journal Stem Cell Reports, Kime and his colleagues recreated the blastocyst-like structures they initially observed years ago.

Seven days following the conversion treatment on mice stem cells, the team were able to produce five to 30 “floating self-assembled blastocyst-like structures.”

While investigating the cells as they began maturing, the researchers discovered they contain gene expressions for totipotency, which are typically found in two-cell embryos.

The team also noted that the matured structures were bound together more closely as compared to their precursors. This served as evidence that the latter might include totipotent cells.

Kime and his team also found that their technique was not perfect. The cells they produced have low counts of outer/inner cell fates as compared to natural blastocyst.

But despite this imperfection, the blastocyst-like structures were still able to induce changes to the uterus of mice models when they were implanted.

According to the researchers, this breakthrough could have applications not just in embryogenesis, but on fertility-related studies and regenerative medicine as well.

“Totipotency is the highest order of cell potency: one totipotent cell can form the placenta and the body…everything,” Kime added.

Read More: New Stem Cell Treatment Could Mean End Of Parkinson’s Disease

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Chelle is the Product Management Lead at INK. She's an experienced SEO professional as well as UX researcher and designer. She enjoys traveling and spending time anywhere near the sea with her family and friends.

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