Scientists plan to drop limits on how far human embryos are grown in the lab | MIT Technology Review
As technology for manipulating embryonic life accelerates, researchers want to get rid of their biggest stop sign.
March 16, 2021
Pushing the limits: For the last 40 years, scientists have agreed never to allow human embryos to develop beyond two weeks in their labs. Now a key scientific body is ready to do away with the 14-day limit. The International Society for Stem Cell Research has prepared draft recommendations to move such research out of a category of “prohibited” scientific activities and into a class of research that can be permitted after ethics review and depending on national regulations.
Why? Scientists are motivated to grow embryos longer in order to study—and potentially manipulate—the development process. They believe discoveries could come from studying embryos longer, for example improvements to IVF or finding clues to the causes of birth defects. But such techniques raise the possibility of someday gestating animals outside the womb until birth, a concept called ectogenesis. And the long-term growth of embryos could create a platform to explore the genetic engineering of humans.