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Scientists Grow Two-Week-Old Human Embryos In Lab For The First Time (reuters.com) 140

An anonymous reader writes: According to Reuters, "Using a culture method previously tested to grow mouse embryos outside of a mother, the teams were able to conduct almost hour by hour observations of human embryo development to see how they develop and organize themselves up to day 13."

Brave new world, here we come
From the report: "The work, covered in two studies published on Wednesday in the journal Nature and Nature Cell Biology, showed how the cells that will eventually form the human body self-organize into the basic structure of a post-implantation human embryo. As well as advancing human biology expertise, the knowledge gained from studying these developments should help to improve in-vitro fertilization (IVF) treatments and further progress in the field of regenerative medicine, the researchers said. But the research also raises the issue of an international law banning scientists from developing human embryos beyond 14 days, and suggests this limit may have to be reviewed. 'Longer cultures could provide absolutely critical information for basic human biology,' said researcher Zernicka-Goetz. 'But this would of course raise the next question - of where we should put the next limit.'"
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Scientists Grow Two-Week-Old Human Embryos In Lab For The First Time

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  • 22 male brown skin, 31 female red hair, and 2 sets of twins. i expect hourly updates.
  • I'm sure there are plenty of nations that don't give a shit and would welcome research labs.
    • by sittingnut ( 88521 ) <sittingnut@NosPaM.gmail.com> on Thursday May 05, 2016 @05:59AM (#52051463) Homepage

      I'm sure there are plenty of nations that don't give a shit and would welcome research labs.

      i am sure there are plenty of nations that wouldn't "give a shit" to test on adult humans in said research labs too.

      -
      in the end question is what is the limit on scientific testing, that harms text subjects, but benefits other humans?

      limits at present are arbitrary and irrational (though imperfectly practical); we don't allow healthy humans and late more developed embryos, but allow early ones, we allow some animals, not others, but feel squeamish and hold protests.
      at the same time we kill and eat animals(sometimes the same ones) and allow even very late embryos to ripped out and burned, and end their "life" in garbage.

      all that uncertainty and irrationality inevitably flow from of moral relativism and utilitarianism, which are main components of dominant secular ideology of modern west.
      if you buy in to that ideology, accept inevitable ethical chaos and irrationality.
      deal with it! and live(if it lets you live) with it!

      • i am sure there are plenty of nations that wouldn't "give a shit" to test on adult humans in said research labs too.

        It's inevitable, and it probably won't be just the nations you would suspect.

        There will be mistakes and abuses, as with all human endeavors; especially if this proceeds before we completely understand the consequences of altering this strand for that advantage.

  • by ooloorie ( 4394035 ) on Thursday May 05, 2016 @05:35AM (#52051413)

    Zernicka-Goetz, who spoke to reporters in London, said a wealth of new information could be discovered if human embryos could be grown in a lab dish for just a few days more.

    I don't particularly approve of the legal restrictions. Nevertheless, for early development, there is no significant difference between humans and primates (or even many other mammals) at the level of these studies, so they wouldn't have to use human embryos.

    • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

      by Opportunist ( 166417 )

      If this is happening in the US, the decision will probably be made on grounds of the sensibilities of someone's imaginary friend rather than science or anything else that has anything to do with reality.

      • Doesn't terminating the experiment amount to abortion? I don't understand how pro-lifers can be for restrictions like that.
        • You might be too young to remember the outcry that surrounded artificial insemination. Unnatural, against god's will and all that shit.

          • You might be too young to remember the outcry that surrounded artificial insemination. Unnatural, against god's will and all that shit.

            Or birth control: http://www.motherjones.com/med... [motherjones.com]

            Freaky shit.

            Sex - It's like ethanol and cannabis consumption except with a biological imperative. People are going to engage in sex, even have a drive to do it, and not many want to end up like the Duggars. Suppressing it leads to all kinds of whacky stuff.

            • As the late George Carlin said it, do you think there's more rape at the North Pole or the jungle? People would think it's in the jungle, 'cause people are naked and there's a lot of fucking going on. I say it's exactly the other way around. Because people are naked and there's a lot of fucking going on. Less pressure, ya know?

        • Maybe they think the soul forms on day 14.

          • by jabuzz ( 182671 ) on Thursday May 05, 2016 @10:04AM (#52052643) Homepage

            One guesses the 14 days thing is that this is when gastrulation occurs. That is the point in which the developing bundle of cells reorganizes itself into three layers of cells and is no longer able to split into two or more groups and make twins, triplets etc.

            As such it is not the arbitrary point in time that a lot of commentators are presuming it is.

            • I think that almost any point in time is arbitrary. For just about any stage / time, you could point out a first that occurs. 14 days is especially arbitrary because it's 2 weeks of calendar time. Plus, it's especially arbitrary in the context of abortion discussions (which cast a long shadow over everything related to human development), because religious people typically point to the fertilization of the egg as 'the' moment when it gets a right-to-life. 14 days is irrelevant to that.

      • If this is happening in the US, the decision will probably be made on grounds of the sensibilities of someone's imaginary friend

        Ireland, Germany, Poland, Italy, and other countries like that are much more into "imaginary friends" as the basis of research legislation:

        http://www.mbbnet.umn.edu/scma... [umn.edu]

        http://www.techinsider.io/what... [techinsider.io]

      • by Pascoea ( 968200 )
        I would mod, but there is no "It's not flamebait if it's true" mod.
        • Yes, the trouble is that it isn't true. The influence of churches and religion on US politics is much less than in many European countries. So, the OP remains flamebait, and you're simply ignorant.

          • by Pascoea ( 968200 )

            Yes, you are correct, I am ignorant of the current state of law making in European countries, and am only vaguely aware that the origins of law over there are more heavily rooted in religion than in the US.

            I guess my counter argument is why does it have to be a comparison? "My country uses less religion in crafting new laws than your country" still makes absolutely no sense to me. I don't care what country we are talking about, religion has no place in law making. I understand that the men and women craftin

            • I guess my counter argument is why does it have to be a comparison?

              "Opportunist" is a bigoted, anti-American European who used this issue to try and get in a dig at the US. And the kind of ignorance he is peddling, unfortunately, has taken root in the US, with Americans themselves having a distorted view of their own country and making bad political decisions by trying to emulate Europe. Just look at the kind of rhetoric that has been coming from people like Sanders and Obama. So, people like you mindlessly

    • by frnic ( 98517 )

      I hate to break it to you, but there is extensive evidence that there is never very much difference between humans and other primates at any level of development. The differences are minuscule compared to the similarities.

      • by SirSlud ( 67381 )

        Yeah sure, there isn't much difference if you want to make selective comparisons: we all have two legs and two arms, for instance.

        This is a dumb "factoid" that belies the reality that at some point, you're probably more comfortable letting a human drive you to work than one of those other primates that are "not very different".

        • by Rob Y. ( 110975 )

          Hey, I'm fine with abortion as birth control, fetish, or whatever in the early stages. But doing this with human embryos seems weirdly irrelevant and provocative - or 'human exceptionalist' at best, which is pretty non-scientific.

          Certainly from an embryological point of view, the significant differences between a fully-formed human and chimp (or pig, for that matter) are minuscule - at least as relates to the kinds of discovery that could be made from observing an embryo in its first few weeks. I assume w

      • I hate to break it to you, but there is extensive evidence that there is never very much difference between humans and other primates at any level of development. The differences are minuscule compared to the similarities.

        I hate to break it to you, but that is wrong. While there are no gross anatomical differences during early development, there clearly are later in development. Furthermore, there are molecular, biochemical, and genetic differences from the beginning, including drug interactions and common

    • by schwit1 ( 797399 ) on Thursday May 05, 2016 @08:25AM (#52051921)
      "no significant difference between humans and primates" Humans are primates.
    • by kanweg ( 771128 )

      There are fewer primates than humans, I think.
      Also, the eggs are collected after IVF treatment (desired by the women concerned) and donated with their consent.
      A primate would have to be subjected to an unnecessary medical procedure to collect the eggs.
      I think the current situation is preferable.

      Bert

      • There are fewer primates than humans, I think.

        There are also fewer cows than humans in the world. Should we start using humans for commercial milk and meat production then?

  • Any limit is going to be arbitrary. Let's put it another way: Whoever wants to do something like that has to show why. If there is a good reason to grow a body in a petri dish to 9 months, fine. For shits and giggles, even 14 days is more than you should get.

    • Lines drawn in the sand only inhibit those who follow the law. Those who don't will continue to conduct experiments perhaps in nations who just don't care what you do to a fetus. China will have super humans before we ever do if we continue to stop progress like this.
      • You sig is oddly on topic...

      • by tnk1 ( 899206 )

        Let China have their superhumans. There's more to existence than being the next person with more technological "progress".

        I love science and what we can do with it, but pursuit of it without an understanding of what you're actually trying to achieve, or if that goal is actually desirable, just leads down a path that doesn't achieve actual happiness for anyone. What good is a superhuman if you can't be one? What good is a superhuman if *everyone* is one?

        We can do lots of things, that doesn't mean that tho

  • Pregger women scientists working in the laboratory preggers, just showin' up for work.
    Conception has occurred in the laboratory too.
    On top of the Van de Graaff generator.

    • Conception has occurred in the laboratory too.

      On top of the Van de Graaff generator.

      I'm shocked, I tell you!

  • by ThatsNotPudding ( 1045640 ) on Thursday May 05, 2016 @06:52AM (#52051573)
    Zuck's next spawn is going to be the Kwisatz Haderach.
  • by Elledan ( 582730 ) on Thursday May 05, 2016 @07:19AM (#52051657) Homepage
    If we stick to this 14-day limit, then we will never know how things work exactly after this point. The question is thus whether we can use that knowledge for the benefit of humanity, to which the answer appears to be 'yes'.

    What I find most tantalising about this is the prospect this opens of artificial uteruses, and with it the elimination of the need to carry one's unborn child along inside one's natural incubator for nine months, at least for humans of the female persuasion. This would also enable same-sex couples to have a child with their DNA, without requiring anyone else to carry the child to term.

    This in addition to the things we can learn from studying the development of embryos and stem cells in general, for both current and future humans.

    The possible positive impact these advances may have to me at least far outweigh the philosophical musing some people seem to be absorbed in.
    • Finally, we can get to a society without women!

      Oh wait. We only do that stupid bullshit when it's a story about being able to fertilize an egg in a lab without sperm (or some such other development) and the sexist conclusion is a society without men.

  • the teams were able to conduct almost hour by hour observations

    Why only almost hour by hour? What stopped them having a sneaky peak at 59 minutes?

    • Union rules said the scientists had to take a observation break every 3 hours.
    • Generally you can't observe these sorts of things continuously, so you'd do 60 min +/- 5 minute intervals and then have some shifts but maybe not enough to cover each hour round the clock.
  • by Marble River ( 954096 ) on Thursday May 05, 2016 @08:09AM (#52051845)
    That's when they start to get really annoying; they think they know everything.
  • The real problem of course is that governments and politicians of the world are limiting human knowledge and discoveries by sticking their shitty hands and noses where they do not belong at all - science. The real problem of ethics is the ignoramuses of the general public and their ignoramus pieces of shit 'representatives' destroying individual freedom of scientists to run any experiments they need to run on cells, tissues just because those cells and tissues can at some point become a human. Well, if the

  • "But this would of course raise the next question - of where we should put the next limit"

    Full Term.
    • Are you one of those people performing partial birth abortions and selling the body parts?

      If not, sounds like you're giving them the green light.

      You know a "partial birth abortion" involves vaccuuming the baby's brains out, right?

      And is against federal law?
      • No babies are involved in an abortion and frankly it's a stretch to call it a brain for several years after the birth. We are biologically programmed to adore and protect babies but look who's talking isn't actually real.

        I'm simply suggesting that researchers are the cautious types and can be trusted to make reasonable judgements, with consent, as to what they will be able to safely accomplish here. There certainly is nobody else who is better qualified to make this judgement. I see no ethical problem with
  • To the Likers, a single fertilized cell has full human rights. The Choicers punt until birth, leaving the debate with a huge excluded middle.

    We have put a lot of thought into determining when life ends, and what we have decided on is cessation of brain activity. Why not define the start of brain activity, about six weeks in, as when life begins?

    • by jabuzz ( 182671 )

      The percentage of "Choicers" who punt it to nine months is so vanishing small it's not worth talking about. Most reasonable and rational people who believe in choice thats like 99.9999% of them put the end of "choice" where the foetus is able to survive independently of the mother.

      • The percentage of "Choicers" who punt it to nine months is so vanishing small it's not worth talking about. Most reasonable and rational people who believe in choice thats like 99.9999% of them put the end of "choice" where the foetus is able to survive independently of the mother.

        With incubators and such, even extremely premature babies (1 pound birth weight!) have survived. At the other extreme, infants and toddlers can't survive on their own for years after delivery from mom.

        I believe in both science and God. I believe that all mankind has agency to choose for themselves, so I am against any governmental theocracy or arbitrary laws enforcing a religious set of rules. People should be free to do what they want as long as it doesn't infringe on the rights of others. That means that

        • Speaking religiously, the Scriptures tell us that God formed the physical body of Adam, then put in him the breath of life (often interpreted as spirit). Upon receiving the breath of life, Adam became a "living soul."

          Doesn't it bother you to know that Adam is myth? Humans are primates and come from common ancestors of other living primates. Or do you throw all the way and cling to a myth? Just curious.

          • Speaking religiously, the Scriptures tell us that God formed the physical body of Adam, then put in him the breath of life (often interpreted as spirit). Upon receiving the breath of life, Adam became a "living soul."

            Doesn't it bother you to know that Adam is myth? Humans are primates and come from common ancestors of other living primates. Or do you throw all the way and cling to a myth? Just curious.

            In a word, no. It doesn't bother me if Adam and Eve are a myth or historic figures. I believe that God speaks to man in a way that man understands at the time. Likewise, science is man's best guess based on current evidence. Religion, when perfectly revealed and understood SHOULD NOT conflict with perfectly understood science. Both science and religion are a "what we know / understand now" deal. Either could be refined as more is revealed / discovered.

      • From my personal experience with speaking to people, most choicers stop being ok with abortions at 3rd trimester, and most lifers start are fine with abortion at 1st trimester (using abortion as a guide of "when does 'life' begin"). The debate is really at the second trimester. But in the US, the politics/political theater/extreme groups keep glossing over this point, and try to polarize the issue into all or none. This polarization prevents actual civil discourse and resolution. It's rather sad, actually.

  • "Longer cultures could provide absolutely critical information for basic human biology,"

    Why stop at embryos?

    Think how much they could learn if they left them for 500, 600 weeks ? I mean hell, go to 2000 weeks and then terminate. Think how much you'd learn!

    As a 49 year old, I can pretty much vouch there's little value in studying past that point.

    If people can't see the moral qualms here, I'd only offer you a couple of current-world points from which to extrapolate:
    - puppy mills
    - the fact that China *alread

    • by Livius ( 318358 )

      - the fact that China *already* treats actual humans like replaceable meaningless bio-cogs

      Same as most corporations.

  • To learn now to regenerate organs or limbs we need to learn how animals that actually can do that do it and not how an embryo is growing.

    The amount we learn that is applicable to real treatments for humans is likely very very low. It looks like we do it because we can ...

    • Most regeneration in animals is either very simple animals like flatworms or imperfect regeneration in some amphibians and reptiles. To get an actual usable organ or limb studying how they grow is the best way. Regrowing a finger without any bones like a lizard replaces its tail isn't going to help much.
      • There are plenty of animals in the lizarddom that can replace whole limbs, not only a tail.

        • I've seen information about some amphibians (particularly salamanders) being able to regenerate limbs, but not lizards. I would appreciate a link if you have one handy.
  • Coming up later: how Zuckerberg, Gates & Whitman are already planning a scheme to teach them to code.

The aim of science is to seek the simplest explanations of complex facts. Seek simplicity and distrust it. -- Whitehead.

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