Researchers in New York have created half human-half chicken embryos, circumventing restrictions on research with human embryos, to observe for the first time how cells organize themselves.
A team of researchers led by Dr. Ali Brivanlou, a developmental biologist at Rockefeller University in New York, are the first-ever scientists to watch cells in a developing embryo organizing themselves as top, bottom, front and back, according to Scientific American.
To do so, they grafted human cells onto chicken embryos.
“No one knew what happens after the ball of cells attaches itself to the uterus,” Brivanlou says in the study, published this week in the science journal Nature.
Organizer cells form a cell’s top, bottom and back and dictate how the human body takes its form.
“Once you transplant the human organizer into a chicken embryo, the language it uses to instruct the bird cells to establish the brain and nervous system is exactly the same as the one used by amphibians and fish. … To my amazement, the graft not only survived, but actually gave rise to these beautifully organized structures,” Brivanlou added, according to Daily Mail.
Ethical guidelines and laws in the United States restrict scientists from experimenting with human embryos more than 14 days old, which is about the time organizer cells begin to form. To bypass the laws, the researchers grew embryo-like structures derived from human embryonic cells, and then transplanted the structures onto 12-hour-old chicken embryos.
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Source: Christian Post