Researchers have created ‘synthetic’ embryos from mouse stem cells that have beating hearts as well as the foundations of brains and all other organs.
The models are intended to help the scientists at the University of Cambridge better understand the mechanisms of embryo development.
While the research was carried out in mouse models, it is hoped the results could increase understanding of why some human embryos fail while others go on to develop into a healthy pregnancy.
Additionally, they could be used to guide the repair and development of synthetic human organs for transplantation, the experts suggest.
Professor Magdalena Zernicka-Goetz, said: ‘Our mouse embryo model not only develops a brain, but also a beating heart, all the components that go on to make up the body.
‘It’s just unbelievable that we’ve got this far.
‘This has been the dream of our community for years, and a major focus of our work for a decade and finally we’ve done it.’