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For the first time, scientists have successfully grown embryos of mice in space.
Science & Health

For the first time, scientists have successfully grown embryos of mice in space.

A team of Japanese researchers reported that mouse embryos successfully matured and developed while on board the International Space Station, suggesting that reproduction in space may be feasible for humans.

In August 2021, Teruhiko Wakayama, a professor at the University of Yamanashi’s Advanced Biotechnology Centre, and a team from the Japan Aerospace Space Agency (JAXA) sent frozen mouse embryos to the ISS on a rocket.

A team of astronauts utilized a specialized apparatus to defrost early-stage embryos and subsequently cultured them for a span of four days aboard the space station.

The scientists reported that the embryos grown in a microgravity environment developed into blastocysts, which are cells that eventually become the fetus and placenta.

According to a study published in the scientific journal iScience on Saturday, the researchers stated that the experiment “clearly showed no substantial impact of gravity.”

The researchers reported that there were no notable alterations in the DNA and genes of the blastocysts that were returned to their Earth laboratories.

According to a joint statement from the University of Yamanashi and national research institute Riken, this is the first study to demonstrate that mammals could potentially survive and flourish in space. The statement was released on Saturday.

“The statement stated that this was the first-ever attempt to culture early-stage mammalian embryos in the complete microgravity environment of the International Space Station.”

The blastocysts that were grown in microgravity on the ISS will need to be transplanted into mice in the future to determine if the mice are able to successfully give birth. This step is important in confirming the normal development of the blastocysts.

This research could have significance for future missions involving space exploration and colonization.

NASA’s Artemis program aims to return humans to the Moon with the goal of gaining knowledge on how to sustain long-term living arrangements in preparation for a future mission to Mars, expected to take place in the late 2030s.