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May 06, 2016 06:29 AM EDT

Lab-Grown Human Embryo: Kept Alive For More Than A Week; Scientists Debate Ethical 14-Day Limit [VIDEO]

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Scientists are now able to grow human embryos in petri dishes. This could mean that we are able to produce new developments in research for fertility and stem cell therapies. However, is the 14-day limit on keeping the embryos alive enough to be considered ethical?

Scientists were able to keep human embryos cultured in petri dishes alive for 13 days, 5 days longer than the previous record of 9 days, Nature reported. Scientists were able to note that the embryos develop a group of unknown cells between days 10 to 12. The cell cluster's function is currently unknown but it may contain answers to questions about human development. However, keeping human embryos for more than 14 days raised some ethical concerns in the scientific research community.


The new record of having the human embryos kept alive for more than a week could have challenged the "14-day rule" where scientists are discouraged from continuing further research on advanced human embryos. However, the researchers destroyed the embryos before reaching 14 days, Discovery News shared. They found that human embryo at this stage would be implanting itself in the womb lining and scientists in the past were unable to study it. Their research findings were published in Nature and Nature Cell Biology.

The scientists argued that they would have discovered many more things if it weren't for the 14-day rule. Magdalena Zernicka-Goetz, lead researcher and professor at University of Cambridge said that more things would have been discovered if they studied the human embryos longer, Reuters reported. She and her colleagues say that the 14-day rule should be examined again but that would raise another concern of when to set the limit again.

Do you think the 14-day rule on studying lab-grown human embryos should be abolished and lengthened? Tell us your thoughts below.

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