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Without Egg, Sperm or Womb: Synthetic Mouse Embryo Models Created Solely from Stem Cells

The method opens new vistas for studying how stem cells self-organize into organs and may in the future help produce transplantable tissues

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An egg meets a sperm – that’s a necessary first step in life’s beginnings, and it’s also a common first step in embryonic development research. But in a Weizmann Institute of Science study published today in Cell, researchers have grown synthetic embryo models of mice outside the womb by starting solely with stem cells cultured in a petri dish – that is, without the use of fertilized eggs. The method opens new horizons for studying how stem cells form various organs in the developing embryo and may one day make it possible to grow tissues and organs for transplantation using synthetic embryo models.

“The embryo is the best organ-making machine and the best 3D bioprinter – we tried to emulate what it does,” says Prof. Jacob Hanna of Weizmann’s Molecular Genetics Department, who headed the research team. He explains that scientists already know how to restore mature cells to “stemness” – pioneers of this cellular reprogramming had won a Nobel Prize in 2012. But going in the opposite direction, that is, causing stem cells to differentiate into specialized body cells, not to mention form entire organs, has proved much more problematic. “Until now, in most studies, the specialized cells were often either hard to produce or aberrant, and they tended to form a mishmash instead of well-structured tissue suitable for transplantation. We managed to overcome these hurdles by unleashing the self-organization potential encoded in the stem cells.”

Hanna’s team built on two previous advances in his lab. One was an efficient method for reprogramming stem cells back to a naïve state – that is, to their earliest stage – when they have the greatest potential to specialize into different cell types. The other, described in a scientific paper in Nature in March 2021, was the electronically controlled device the team had developed over seven years of trial and error for growing natural mouse embryos outside the womb. The device keeps the embryos bathed in a nutrient solution inside of beakers that move continuously, simulating the way nutrients are supplied by material blood flow to the placenta, and closely controls oxygen exchange and atmospheric pressure. In the earlier research, the team had successfully used this device to grow natural mouse embryos from day 5 to day 11.

In the new study, the team set out to grow a synthetic embryo model solely from naïve mouse stem cells that had been cultured for years in a petri dish, dispensing with the need for starting with a fertilized egg. This approach is extremely valuable because it could, to a large extent, bypass the technical and ethical issues involved in the use of natural embryos in research and biotechnology. Even in the case of mice, certain experiments are currently unfeasible because they would require thousands of embryos, whereas access to models derived from mouse embryonic cells, which grow in lab incubators by the millions, is virtually unlimited.

Before placing the stem cells into the device, the researchers separated them into three groups. In one, which contained cells intended to develop into embryonic organs themselves, the cells were left as they were. Cells in the other two groups were pretreated for only 48 hours to overexpress one of two types of genes: master regulators of either the placenta or the yolk sac. “We gave these two groups of cells a transient push to give rise to extraembryonic tissues that sustain the developing embryo,” Hanna says.

Soon after being mixed together inside the device, the three groups of cells convened into aggregates, the vast majority of which failed to develop properly. But about 0.5 percent – 50 of around 10,000 – went on to form spheres, each of which later became an elongated, embryo-like structure. Since the researchers had labeled each group of cells with a different color, they were able to observe the placenta and yolk sacs forming outside the embryos and the model’s development proceeding as in a natural embryo. These synthetic models developed normally until day 8.5 – nearly half of the mouse 20-day gestation – at which stage all the early organ progenitors had formed, including a beating heart, blood stem cell circulation, a brain with well-shaped folds, a neural tube and an intestinal tract. When compared to natural mouse embryos, the synthetic models displayed a 95 percent similarity in both the shape of internal structures and the gene expression patterns of different cell types. The organs seen in the models gave every indication of being functional.

For Hanna and other stem cell and embryonic development researchers, the study presents a new arena: “Our next challenge is to understand how stem cells know what to do – how they self-assemble into organs and find their way to their assigned spots inside an embryo. And because our system, unlike a womb, is transparent, it may prove useful for modeling birth and implantation defects of human embryos.”

In addition to helping reduce the use of animals in research, synthetic embryo models might in the future become a reliable source of cells, tissues and organs for transplantation. “Instead of developing a different protocol for growing each cell type – for example, those of the kidney or liver – we may one day be able to create a synthetic embryo-like model and then isolate the cells we need. We won’t need to dictate to the emerging organs how they must develop. The embryo itself does this best.”

This research was co-led by Shadi Tarazi, Alejandro Aguilera-Castrejon and Carine Joubran of Weizmann’s Molecular Genetics Department. Study participants also included Shahd Ashouokhi, Dr. Francesco Roncato, Emilie Wildschutz, Dr. Bernardo Oldak, Elidet Gomez-Cesar, Nir Livnat, Sergey Viukov, Dmitry Lokshtanov, Segev Naveh-Tassa, Max Rose and Dr. Noa Novershtern of Weizmann’s Molecular Genetics Department; Montaser Haddad and Prof. Tsvee Lapidot of Weizmann’s Immunology and Regenerative Biology Department; Dr. Merav Kedmi of Weizmann’s Life Sciences Core Facilities Department; Dr. Hadas Keren-Shaul of the Nancy and Stephen Grand Israel National Center for Personalized Medicine; and Dr. Nadir Ghanem, Dr. Suhair Hanna and Dr. Itay Maza of the Rambam Health Care Campus.

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NMIMS SBM Offers MBA (Part-Time) Program for Working Executives

The program focuses on providing a holistic education to enhance their employability

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Start your professional learning journey now with the best-in-class MBA (Part-Time) program with the most sought-after prestigious NMIMS, School of Business Management, featured in the top 100 global B-schools as per Financial Times MiM 2022 ranking. A highly respected business school in India with a legacy of 41 years and a prestigious faculty announces admissions open for their MBA (Part-Time) program at their Mumbai campus.

This program offers an opportunity for working executives to acquire a high-end compact management qualification through rigorous and qualitative in-class learning and practical exposure to industry expertise. The program focuses on providing a holistic education to enhance their employability, exposing working executives to contemporary trends and practices in management. It also provides excellent academic resources coupled with industry best practices to boost the managerial competence of executives.

NMIMS SBM MBA (Part-Time) is accredited by Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) for working executives who want to enhance their skills and advance their careers. NMIMS has world-class pedagogy to provide students with a comprehensive and engaging learning experience. NMIMS SBM has a team of experts with extensive experience in the business world. The program structure is upto 40% hybrid and 60% in the classroom, whereas Bloomberg Certification Program will help students use financial analysis tools more efficiently. 

“The program is specifically meant for executives who have spent quality time in the industry and have adequate exposure to managerial roles and responsibilities. The two-year MBA (Part-Time) program will offer an opportunity for participants to hone their managerial skills and enable them to contribute better to their decision-making. It has been designed to empower students with a well-planned schedule that allows for a balance between study and work,” said Dr. Prashant Mishra, Dean School of Business Management.

Dr. Pradeep Pai, Program Chairperson, MBA (Part-Time), School of Business Management, said, “NMIMS SBM is proud to offer this innovative program to working professionals who wish to take the next step in their careers. We believe that this program will be a preferred executive education program for working professionals seeking to upgrade their qualifications by acquiring a widely acclaimed MBA degree.”

The MBA (Part-Time) program goes beyond traditional education by providing learners value-added workshops and industry connections. Our curriculum is regularly updated to ensure students receive the most current knowledge. The program helps them gain a practical and theoretical understanding of the industry and creates a network of professionals for them as they progress.

Eligibility Criteria:

  • 50% in Graduation from a recognized University in any discipline. (Distance/Part time/Full time)
  • Minimum 3 years of work experience in an executive or supervisory capacity or self-employed after graduation & up to the date of written test/personal interview.
  • The work experience should be full-time experience and should NOT include internships, projects, training periods, trainee (management, engineering), etc.

Selection Process:

Written Test conducted for MBA (Part-Time) by NMIMS OR Candidates with GMAT score of 600 and above (GMAT score of last 5 years up to the closure of registrations will be considered) OR Candidates with a score of 200 and above in NMAT by GMAC examinations for 2020 admission AND Personal Interview

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eSecForte visited Northeast to strengthen Industry-Academia Interface for Achieving Effective Cybersecurity Prospects  

The team also visited the Indian Institute of Information Technology (IIIT), Manipur and interacted with students on the topic of Digital Forensics Challenges and career options

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In an effort to create a holistic ecosystem for cybersecurity in the country, the team from eSecForte led by Lt Col (Dr.) Santosh Khadsare  (Retd), VP Digital Forensics  & Incident Response  visited the National Institute of Electronics and Information Technology (NEILT), Kohima and held discussions with the director of the institute, L. Lanuwabang. The deliberations were focused on enlarging the gambit of cybersecurity especially digital forensics in the country and how eSecForte and NEILT can come together to contribute effectively in this regard. 

The team also visited the Indian Institute of Information Technology (IIIT), Manipur and interacted with students on the topic of Digital Forensics Challenges and career options. The discussion entailed how the use of digital forensics can prove instrumental in bringing the perpetrators of cybercrimes to the book. The various challenges related to the implementation of tools and methodologies of digital forensics were also part of the very constructive dialogue that was held between our team and enthusiastic students. 

The team lead had a very fruitful discussion with Dr Krishnan Bhaskar, Director, IIIT, Imphal and discussed how the Industry-Academia interface can do wonders in the field of cybersecurity and digital forensics. Specifically, detailed deliberations were held on devising exchange mechanisms and collaborative opportunities so that industry and academics can come together and lead to the creation of a self-sustainable ecosystem in the field of cybersecurity. Such development will ensure that cases related to the cybercrimes are dealt swiftly and lead to desired outcomes in terms of ensuring justice and well-being for all participating stakeholders. 

In the next leg of the reaching out journey, eSecForte’s team paid a visit to the National Forensic Science University (NFSU), Imphal campus and exchanged ideas with the campus coordinator on the latest trends and developments in the field of digital forensics. Apprising the importance of digital forensics to investigating officers, Lt Col (Dr.) Santosh Khadsare  (Retd), VP DFIR interacted with more than 400 trainees of the North Eastern Police Academy (NEPA), Shillong. These aspirants were thoroughly apprised of the importance of digital forensics and its utility in cracking cases related to cyberfrauds, cyberbullying, and other allied crimes associated with cyberspace. Case studies were discussed on how to handle digital evidence at the crime scenes with utmost care so that trace evidence won’t get lost in the logistical procedures and processes. The team showcased flagship products of eSecForte, Digital Forensic workstations and Faraday bags and informed them of the utility of these offerings built under India’s ambitious MAKE IN INDIA (MII) project. 

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Roots Collegium signs World Chess Champion Koneru Humpy as Brand Ambassador

Chairman, Sri. B.P.Padala announces Koneru Humpy as the Brand Ambassador of Roots Collegium educational institutions

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  • Humpy will be the face of its upcoming brand-related undertakings

Celebrating its 30 years’ legacy in imparting holistic education, Roots Collegium, a well-known educational institution in Hyderabad has today announced World Chess Champion Koneru Humpy as its Brand Ambassador. The appointment of Ms. Koneru Humpy is set to boost the brand image of Roots Collegium amplifying the institution’s philosophy in making its students achieve global exposure.

With the signing up of world chess champion Koneru Humpy as its Brand Ambassador, Roots Collegium will be exploring untapped areas of new-age innovations and add them to its list of achievements in the last 30 years. The fast expanding Roots Collegium, started in 1991, offers intermediate courses and almost all the streams of Bachelor’s degrees. Roots collegium is providing a wide range of courses like BBA, BBA (Business Analytics, B.Com (General, computers, sales), BA (Mass Communication, Psychology, and modern languages), and B.Sc. (Data Analysis). The college provides a variety of courses in design, film and media, visual arts, hotel management, culinary arts, and also many other certificate courses.

Reacting to her appointment, Koneru Humpy said “It is my pleasure to be the brand ambassador of Roots Collegium. I thank Sri. BP Padala gaaru for the honour. Roots Collegium as an institution has been offering the best educational facilities for its students for the last 30 years. Roots and I share a similar journey as we both have started our journey’s 30 years back. We both have same passion, integrity and ethics. That’s the special part about Roots Collegium, to which I instantly related to. And now we are ready to travel together.  As an ambassador, I look forward to contributing my committed services to the college and helping them grow in stature. I will take part in each and every event of the college and would like to share my thoughts and way-forward ideas in all its initiatives. Once again I want to thank all the staff and management for choosing me as a brand ambassador.”

Koneru Humpy is the FIDE Women’s rapid chess champion of 2019. She became the youngest woman to achieve the title of a Grandmaster back in 2002 at the age of 15. Her association will be an added feather to the cap of Roots Collegium’s growing achievements and a historic moment in its journey. 

The Chairman of Roots Collegium, Sri. B P Padala said “It’s our honour to have such a young and dynamic chess champion, Koneru Humpy as our brand ambassador. I wish the students of Roots Collegium will be motivated by such an inspiring champion who has come across a lot to be in this position today. I have no doubt that with her determination and strong belief, she become a world champion. I hope every student will inculcate the habit of not giving up and fighting for what they want, from her. She will be a role model for each and every student of our institution. I thank Koneru Humpy for accepting this position and people like her will definitely help bring change in society.”

The students of Roots Collegium from different places in Hyderabad city are excited and look forward to listen to the life-changing stories from Koneru Humpy in the future. 

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