‘Human’ cells mixed with chicken embryos in bizarre scientific experiment
US scientists have mixed artificial human cells with the embryos of a chicken in a bizarre experiment that grew bone and nerve structures.
The study into the early forms of human development was carried out by a research team at the Rockefeller University in New York, and made use of embryos from avian test animals and artificial cells designed to replicate human tissue.
Published in the journal Nature, the stem cell research delves into the complex evolution of important human organs like the brain, lungs, liver, as well as bone structure. By understanding the growth of such structures, the defined pathways of certain cells, its hoped scientists can reverse engineer diseases which impact them.
For the study, researchers grafted clusters of human cells onto genuine chicken embryos and found that the mix developed a spinal structure as well as early stages of nerve tissue. It’s the first time scientists have achieved such a feat. While it’s unlikely that hybrid mutant-chicken-people will now be grown in labs, the study does highlight an interesting reaction of DNA from two entirely different species.
The #BrivanlouLab has shown for the first time that a small cluster of cells in the human embryo dictates the fate of other embryonic cells. The discovery of this developmental "organizer" could advance research into many human diseases. https://t.co/JorCK77oTypic.twitter.com/Faxf7VGx08— Rockefeller Univ (@RockefellerUniv) May 23, 2018
“To my amazement the graft not only survived, but actually gave rise to these beautifully organized structures,” said Ali Brivanlou, head scientist behind the project. The graft embryo did not live long enough to develop any further.
According to the Brivanlou, the fact that the human cells developed into parts of a spine and the chicken tissue formed separate neuroanatomy indicate signalling or defined pathways exist.
“Once you transplant the human organizer into a chicken embryo, the language it uses to instruct bird cells to establish the brain and nervous system is exactly the same as the one used by amphibians and fish,” Brivanlou added.
While the study has been hailed as a step in advancing regenerative medicine not everyone is pleased, with some online commenters fearing the worst.
“Ethical? I don’t think so. We need to stop messing with nature,” wrote one commenter.
I wonder if anything could go wrong here.........https://t.co/E5XiuTjYhl— Jamie Glazov (@JamieGlazov) May 25, 2018
Stop it! That's how you get Sleestaks! pic.twitter.com/KqtEeCfC7r— Primeval Ape-man (@Murgoot) May 25, 2018
Scientists so need to chill the funk out.— Fearless Leader (@wonkchok) May 25, 2018
Wtf.— Elizabeth Lea Vos (@ElizabethleaVos) May 25, 2018
This is SICK!!— Eric Dragon Energy (@EricHedean) May 25, 2018
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