Do mouse embryos grow in space? Details of the innovative study conducted on the International Space Station

The study of mammalian reproduction in space takes a new direction with the success of growing mouse embryos on the International Space Station, a crucial step for future space colonies (Image: Gettyimages)

the gravity Their effect on living organisms is a topic that has interested scientists for decades. The same thing happens when there is absence. That’s why the latest study he led Japanese scientists Attracted global attention. This is the first time in history that Mouse embryos are “implanted” on the International Space Station.

“It is necessary to clarify Influence of spatial conditionsas Microgravity And the radiationin mammalian reproduction to ensure Long-term survival of humans in space“, scientists mentioned in their works published in cell. In this sense, they emphasized that this work is due to “Mammalian reproduction is complex, highly specialized and different from other taxa“.

Teruhiko Wakayama, lead author and professor at the Center for Advanced Biotechnology at Yamanashi University, together with a team from the Japan Aerospace Agency (JAXA), were responsible for sending frozen mouse embryos on a rocket to the International Space Station in August 2021. Because it will not be easy to handle these objects in any other way. After thawing the embryos in the initial stage, using Specially designed device For this purpose They farmed at the station for four days.

An International Space Station experiment that grew mouse embryos in microgravity shows that mammals can thrive in space, according to a joint statement from Yamanashi University and Riken EFE/Raul Martinez.

According to scientists, embryos that grow in microgravity conditions naturally develop into blastocysts, which are the cells that develop into an embryo and placenta. While they highlighted that the experience “It clearly proved that gravity had no significant effectAnd that no significant changes were recorded in the state of DNA and genes, after analyzing the blastocyst that was sent back to laboratories on Earth. It is important to note that these conclusions are based on data obtained specifically in this study.

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However, in the work they mention this, although “it is known that Microgravity During spaceflight causes Hidden abnormalities in fertilization and embryonic development of sea urchins and amphibians,” “mating, fertilization and hatching of medaka fish during an orbital experiment resulted in Offspring with apparently normal ovaries and fertility“.

But that’s not all, as they warn that “spaceflight in mice, during mid or late pregnancy, causes… Modest effects on birth ratebirth size, birth weight, and neonatal mortality,” which is why they estimate that “Spatial reproduction of mammals is possible, although it may be affected to some extent“.

The Japanese Aerospace Agency and Yamanashi University collaborate on a pioneering study to grow mouse embryos in microgravity, expanding the possibilities for life in space (Getty)

The effect on offspring is still unknown because “the number of blastocysts obtained in the ISS experiment was not abundant,” meaning new mice cannot be generated “from embryos developed in space.” In any case, experts confirmed that “The first study to show that mammals can thrive in space“, during a presentation held in recent days at Yamanashi University and the Riken National Research Institute, according to a joint statement.

He is “The world’s first experiment to grow early-stage mammalian embryos under the full microgravity of the International Space Station“, they state in the write-up and add: “In the future, it will be necessary to transplant blastocysts grown in the microgravity of the International Space Station into mice to see if the mice are able to give birth” to confirm that the blastocysts are normal, the authors of the work said. “Mouse embryos grown in space: a glimpse into the future of mammalian evolution.”

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“Studying the reproduction of mammals in space is essential for the start of the Space Age, so it is necessary to study and clarify the impact of the space environment before the International Space Station stops working,” said the experts in the work, who explained. “Because mammals evolved in a 1g environment on Earth, they likely use Earth’s gravity for safe pregnancy and birth.” They even warned about it More research is needed to understand the long-term effects of microgravity on fetal development.

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