A man-made embryo shows how a stem cell finds its role

A unique 3D model allows researchers to explore embryonic development.

Image source: Mijo Simunovic/Rockefeller University
  • Researchers observe the beginning of embryonic stem cells dividing into upper and lower body sections.
  • An interdisciplinary team invents an impressively accurate 10-day-old "embryoid."
  • The team's model may be important to other future research on pregnancy.
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Evolution just got turned upside down. Sorry sponges.

Stems cells have always been pretty amazing.

Image source: Piotr Kuczek/Lotus_studio/Shutterstock/Big Think
  • New research indicates animals' oldest ancestor was not sponges' single-celled choanocyte bacteria as previously thought.
  • It appears our earliest predecessors were something like modern stem cells.
  • Our lineage just lost its founding member. The search for our true first predecessor is on!
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The first human esophagus grown in a lab

Scientists have grown a model human esophagus using pluripotent stem cells for the first time.

Cincinnati Children's Hospital
  • By precisely timing the application of different chemicals, scientists have grown a small, model esophagus from stem cells.
  • They used the model esophagus to clarify why a certain congenital condition occurs.
  • Using this technique, future researchers will be able to understand the nature of diseases better, develop new treatments, and even repair damaged esophagi.
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Gay couples may soon be able to have their own biological kids

Human egg cells can now be created from donor blood — a brave new world is upon us.

A false color image of the results of the study. Immature human eggs are shown in pink. (Courtesy of Saitou Lab)
  • Japanese scientists have successfully created immature human egg cells using stem cells.
  • The discovery builds on years of research into the uses of stem cells.
  • While the prospects for new fertility treatments are promising, the ethical questions raised by the procedure will have to be answered.
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Human skeletal stem cells isolated in breakthrough discovery

It's a development that could one day lead to much better treatments for osteoporosis, joint damage, and bone fractures.

Image: Nissim Benvenisty
  • Scientists have isolated skeletal stem cells in adult and fetal bones for the first time.
  • These cells could one day help treat damaged bone and cartilage.
  • The team was able to grow skeletal stem cells from cells found within liposuctioned fat.
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