MIT Tech Review
September 19, 2017
Here is an excerpt:
Scientists at Michigan now have plans to manufacture embryoids by the hundreds. These could be used to screen drugs to see which cause birth defects, find others to increase the chance of pregnancy, or to create starting material for lab-generated organs. But ethical and political quarrels may not be far behind. “This is a hot new frontier in both science and bioethics. And it seems likely to remain contested for the coming years,” says Jonathan Kimmelman, a member of the bioethics unit at McGill University, in Montreal, and a leader of an international organization of stem-cell scientists.
What’s really growing in the dish? There no easy answer to that. In fact, no one is even sure what to call these new entities. In March, a team from Harvard University offered the catch-all “synthetic human entities with embryo-like features,” or SHEEFS, in a paper cautioning that “many new varieties” are on the horizon, including realistic mini-brains.
Shao, who is continuing his training at MIT, dug into the ethics question and came to his own conclusions. “Very early on in our research we started to pay attention to why are we doing this? Is it really necessary? We decided yes, we are trying to grow a structure similar to part of the human early embryo that is hard otherwise to study,” says Shao. “But we are not going to generate a complete human embryo. I can’t just consider my feelings. I have to think about society.”
The article is here.