April 4, 2014
The University of Virginia School of Medicine has made a major scientific breakthrough. Scientists working in the Department of Cell Biology have been able to create a fish embryo using stem cells.
The breakthrough comes after years of research into how embryonic stem cells work. Scientists were able to determine that it only takes two signals to start the process of development that lead to the fish embryo.
This discovery is also a major step toward being able to grow entire organs using stem cells.
"Of course now, of we know how to instruct the cells and make heart cells," says Dr. Chris Thisse. "The hope - not for tomorrow, of course- but the hope is just, you can, you know, make a new heart."
The new embryo, while slightly smaller than a normal fish embryo, has everything that an average fish would have at this stage in development.
Scientists say the next step is to test the stem cells of mice to see if they can trigger the development of a mouse embryo.
If the results can be reproduced, scientists are certain they could complete successful tests on human stem cells as well.