Human cells mimicking early embryogenesis generated
Dr Emma Green, Progress Educational Trust
26 September 2022

[BioNews, London]

A type of embryonic cell has been generated from human stem cells for the first time, providing a method to study post-implantation development.

Published in Cell Stem Cell, researchers at KU Leuven, Belgium, have created extraembryonic mesoderm cells (EXMCs) from human induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs). The cells closely resemble those naturally formed in human embryos, providing a good model to study early development in vitro.

'We are very excited because now we can study processes that normally remain inaccessible during development,' said lead author Professor Vincent Pasque. 'The model has already enabled us to find out where extraembryonic mesoderm cells come from. In the longer term, our model will hopefully also shed more light on medical challenges such as fertility problems, miscarriages, and developmental disorders.'

Ethical and technical limitations mean that early human embryo development is difficult to study. Human stem cell models provide an accessible way to study specific cells and their processes. Human iPSCs have the capacity to generate all cell types in the body.

The extraembryonic mesoderm forms early in embryonic development just after implantation. EXMCs generate the first blood in the embryo, aid in attaching the embryo to the future placenta, and are involved in forming the primitive umbilical cord.

'In humans, this type of cell appears at an earlier developmental stage than in mouse embryos, and there might be other important differences between species. That makes our model especially important: research in mice may not give us answers that also apply to humans' said Professor Pasque.

This new cell model is a step forward in understanding human cell development and may provide a way to study a variety of developmental disorders.

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Reproduced from BioNews with permission, a web- and email-based source of news, information and comment on assisted reproduction and human genetics, published by Progress Educational Trust.

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