Scientists recently combined human stem cells with chicken embryos, but that doesn’t mean the researchers are breeding flocks of “frankenfowl.”
Rather, the scientists are looking closely at how those embryonic cells organize themselves, to better understand how embryos develop and how cells build specialized body structures.
Experiments that graft cells onto a growing embryo date to nearly 100 years ago, and in 1924, such experiments in amphibians led scientists to discover “the organizer,” a region of embryonic cells that manipulates the development of other cells. But an organizer in primate embryonic cells (humans included) has been elusive — until now. A new study describes the first evidence of a human organizer, marking, according to the researchers, a significant breakthrough in the study of developmental biology.