A half-Human half-Chicken Embryo was created for the first time

A half-Human half-Chicken Embryo was created for the first time

A team of researchers in the United States produced hybrid embryos with cells of humans and chicken.

The curiosity of humanity to know more and more has surely revealed a lot of secrets of nature to us. Advancement of technology has certainly improved medical science many times and we can quote several examples like beating-heart surgery that will prove the excellence of mankind in this regard.  Scientists are striving extremely hard to understand developing life these days and it seems that they have found something astonishing.

A team of stem cell researchers in New York created half-human half-chicken embryos as they aim to study how cells organize themselves. This has happened for the first time in history and a lot of people are describing these experiments as sick and disturbing. Despite this criticism, scientists are happy with their work as they are hopeful that this research will answer a lot of mysteries.

Earlier, scientists were unable to answer why some cells convert themselves in nerves and bones while others give birth to muscles and limbs. However, things might change incredibly following a recent research presented by the team of Dr. Ali Brivanlou, a Developmental Biologist at Rockefeller University in New York. Artificial human cells, grown on a petri dish, were grafted onto the embryo of a chicken. This enabled them to observe how cells arrange themselves as top, front, bottom, and back. Brivanlou mentioned that the inner machinations of ‘Organizer Cells’ give a human body its form as the arrangement of their formation is responsible for that. He said,

No one knew what happens after the ball of cells attaches itself to the uterus. Once you transplant the human organizer into a chicken embryo, the language it uses to instruct the bird cells to establish the brain and nervous system is exactly the same as the one used by amphibians and fish. … To my amazement, the graft not only survived but actually gave rise to these beautifully organized structures.”

Although the findings of this study will help medical experts to develop revolutionary treatments for developmental disorders, these experiments were not appreciated by everyone. People called it everything from sick to scary as this news spread rapidly through social media. Some of those people argued that we have supercomputers that can perform molecular level research so such ‘sick’ experiments must be avoided at all costs.

Some people also considered it a violation of the ethical guidelines and laws of United States as they say that no experiment can be performed on a human embryo that is more than 14 days old. But that is not the case as the research team bypassed these laws by growing embryo-like structures taken from human embryonic cells. These structures were then transplanted onto a chicken embryo that was 12 hours old, this is equivalent to 14 days in case of a human embryo. The results were amazing as the organizer cells led the formation of a secondary chicken nervous system.

Contrary to the people who are criticizing this experiment, there are some scientific experts that are praising this effort. Dr. Martin Blum, a Developmental Biologist at the University of Hohenheim in Germany, regarded it as a beautiful finding as actual human embryos will no longer be needed for laboratory purposes. He mentioned that currently, we don’t have a scenario where an actual human embryo would be necessary to answer basic questions. Brivanlou doesn’t seem to agree to that as he mentioned the advantages of observing an actual embryo in the following words:

There is no substitute for studying the real embryo. Everything else we do when we try to model kind of oversimplifies it.

He also mentioned that we do need to figure out the exact pattern adopted by organizer cells to influence their neighboring cells. This will enable the manipulation of stem cells into regenerating tissues and organs.

A lot of experts are comparing the results of this study with the discovery of organizer cells in 1924. The researchers Hilde Mangold and Hans Spemann transferred cells from a salamander to another and observed that new cells developed into a second conjoined salamander. Scientists are quite hopeful that this discovery will prove very handy in determining developmental defects.

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