This model allows for the study of human embryonic implantation and early development using a novel 3D ex vivo culture system. This system is suitable for studying a variety of culture conditions making it ideal for drug screening based studies.
· Basic biology studies of human development
· Drug screening for infertility
· Drug screening for improved birth control methods
· Culturing artificial amnion tissue
One of the first steps of human development is the implantation of embryonic tissue into the placenta. This is followed by a cascade of events leading to formation of a viable fetus. Implantation occurs via amniogenesis – a process whereby an amniotic cavity is formed from an epiblast. This process remains poorly understood due to the difficulty in studying human embryos. Human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs) have emerged as a promising tool to study this process.
This invention consists of an engineered 3D space made of a biological hydrogel which mimics the human peri-implantation environment. When seeded with hPSCs, researches observe self-organization of these hPSCs into amniotic tissue like structures. These cells express many markers characteristic of early human embryonic development. This novel tool can not only be used for the study of development and implantation, but also for future drug screens to better understand and treat infertility.
Fig. 1 | Microfluidic modelling of human epiblast and amnion development. A-B) schematic of epiblast formation following implantation. C-D) Representative confocal micrographs showing cultured epiblasts at various stages of development. Figure published: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-019-1535-2