Scientists are actively exploring the possibility of human reproduction in space, just as a group of Israeli researchers have managed to grow a human embryo model without sperm or egg.
Researchers in Israel managed to grow “complete” models of human embryos by reprogramming stem cells to mimic the process of life, according to a new report.
They were able to do this without the aid of a sperm and egg, but by mixing the stem cells – which they had chemically turned into four types of cells that became the fetus, placenta, yolk sac, and extraembryonic mesoderm – into a specific baby making cocktail.
The configuration cells spontaneously arranged themselves into the structure that resembled a “textbook” 14-day human embryo, and released the type of hormones that a human pregnancy releases.
However, the the scientist’s artificially created splice of life is reportedly impossible to generate a pregnancy from, as the embryo “bypasses the stage needed to attach to the womb lining.”
Elsewhere in questionably ethical bio research, scientists are attempting to make human reproduction in space a reality.
Dr. Egbert Edelbroek, CEO of SpaceBorn United—a Netherlands-based company dedicated to making reproduction in space a reality— is leading the charge.
The company has created a miniaturized in-vitro fertilization (IVF) and embryo incubator, which is poised to be launched on a mission to figure out if humans have the ability to reproduce in space.
In August, the company completed a drop test from 12.4 miles above Earth to investigate the impacts of radiation on organic material.
Dr. Edelbroek emphasized the importance of understanding the effects of partial gravity on embryo development.
Since the gravity level on Mars, where the first of world colonies would likely be created, is still uncertain, the company is focused on studying IVF both in space and on Earth.
Additionally, they are exploring the development of artificial wombs to facilitate reproduction in space—an area of research with potential applications in supporting premature babies.
The CEO acknowledges that there are numerous motives for exploring space, which he listed as concerns about climate change, potential asteroid threats, advances in artificial intelligence, and nuclear hazards, “It would be a good idea to have a back-up plan.”
Dr. Edelbroek noted that their primary objective at present is working on the initial stages of reproduction research, primarily using animal models, but will need to start working with human gametes “eventually.”
“Eventually, of course, somebody needs to do childbirth in space — maybe we will do it soon,” he boasted.