Stay in touch

World first: Model embryos made in the lab from human skin cells

March 18, 2021

In breaking news overnight, Australian scientists have created embryo-like structures—dubbed iBlastoids—in the lab from reprogrammed living human skin cells.

The research was led by Monash University stem cell scientist Professor Jose Polo, who was one of our inaugural Metcalf Prize winners.

Professor Jose Polo (Photo: Monash University)

It involves collaborators from Monash University, The University of Western Australia, ARC Centre of Excellence in Plant Energy Biology, and Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research, including fellow Metcalf Prize winner Professor Ryan Lister.

Here is a selection of reporting of the announcement:

The Age: Scientists create model embryos in lab, raising major ethical questions

“Australian researchers have created “model” human embryos from the skin cells of an adult’s arm, in a world-first scientific breakthrough that raises significant ethical questions.”

- Liam Mannix reporting.

Further analysis: The Age: Scientists have created embryos. What does that mean? And what comes next?

Nature: First complete model of the human embryo

“A proper understanding of early human development is crucial if we are to improve assisted reproductive technologies and prevent pregnancy loss and birth defects. However, studying early development is a challenge — few human embryos are available, and research is subject to considerable ethical and legal constraints.”

The Herald Sun: Embryos grown from skin in Australian world-first

“Melbourne scientists have made an amazing discovery in fighting disease and boosting fertility after a chance research find.

“Living models of human embryos have been grown from skin cells by Melbourne scientists in a breakthrough set to revolutionise medical science.

“Created in a Monash University laboratory from a single donor and without the need for fertilisation, the ‘iBlastoids’ genetically and structurally match human embryos.

“It is not believed the models could survive beyond a stage mirroring the first two weeks of human development, let alone grow into a foetus or allow for cloning.

“… The Melbourne-led breakthrough has also created an ethical and legal minefield, with the National Health and Medical Research Council ruling the reprogrammed skin cells meet the legal definition and must be considered as human embryos.”

- Grant McArthur reporting


Read more:


Diagram: normal blastocyte development following fertilisation (A) compares with iBlastoid formation in the lab (B). Via Monash University.

Share Tweet

Showing 1 reaction

Read All News

Sign up for updates!