Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Embryonic Editing Speeds Up Gene Studies

The Children’s Medical Research Institute has developed a method to create mouse embryos from stem cells without needing live mutant mice. The method will make the generation of mutant lines in tissue engineering and organ generation studies 6 months faster.

The research, published in Differentiation (www.tinyurl.com/j3lce79), uses CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing technology to modify particular genes in mouse embryonic stem (ES) cells. The embryos are then allowed to develop in a mouse, and then epiblast cells are collected for the production of stem cells. The epiblast cells can be used to model embryonic development or be differentiated into a particular cell type for further study.

While conventional mouse ES cells are very different from reprogrammed human stem cells, the mouse epiblast cells are a very close parallel to the human system. They are considered useful for modelling inherited diseases through genome editing and the bioengineering of tissues and mini-organs.

The CMRI believes that these mouse stem cells could lead to better cell-based gene therapy and other treatments for human diseases, and is now offering genome editing of ES cells as a service to researchers.