Can a stembryo give rise to a healthy newborn?
No. The stembryos we make in the lab resemble embryos without at head & heart. They would not be able to implant into the womb, and do not have the potential to give rise to a functional organism. Also, since they lack a brain, the stembryos can not feel pain or have a conscience.
Do you aim to create a baby in a dish?
No. Although we try to generate stembryos from human pluripotent cells, these structures will not have a head & heart. Our aim is to build simplified models that allow us to understand how embryos take their shape in health & disease. For a more detailed account on why human "gastruloids" are not embryos we refer to the FAQ on the lab websites of Naomi Moris & Alfonso Martinez-Arias.
Can stembryos replace animal experiments?
Yes and no. We expect that in the near future the use of stembryogenesis will become more widespread. To facilitate this, we actively work on the optimization of protocols to build better and more reproducible models. We collaborate with other stembryogenesis labs around the world to pinpoint sources of variation to make stembryos an even more attractive tool for researchers around the globe! We should however acknowledge that, although stembryos have huge potential, it is still a model system and therefore also has its limitations (e.g. the lack of a head). We therefore anticipate that, on the short term, stembryogenesis can lead to a (very) significant reduction of the number of animal experiments, but can not (yet) fully replace them.
Why don't you just study the embryo?
As soon as the mammalian embryo implants into the womb, it is obscured from sight and very hard to access. Only few labs in the world have the expertise to manipulate and track living embryos. Moreover, this is costly, requires lots of living animals, and the number of samples are low. Stembryos offer a relatively low-cost alternative and are easy to access, track, manipulate and scale. We can thus get more detailed measurements more quickly.
Can I join #teamstembryo?
Check the Vacancies tab to see if there are open positions. But even if not advertised, we can always discuss the possibilities to join #teamstembryo! To this end, just shoot me (Jesse) a message via this website, (yellow chat box at right bottom corner), twitter (@jvveenvliet or @teamstembryo) or email (veenvliet <at> mpi-cbg <dot> de). Documents to be included are listed here.
I have a great idea! Wanna collaborate?
We love collaborations! If you think stembryos would be useful to answer an intriguing biological question, or you have developed a fantastic new tool that could drive stembryology forward, I would love to hear from you! Shoot us a message via this website, (yellow chat box at right bottom corner), twitter (@jvveenvliet or @teamstembryo) or email (veenvliet <at> mpi-cbg <dot> de).