Roughly 1 in 6 people globally are affected by infertility, with most unsuccessful pregnancies failing within the first week after conception. Our goal is to model the initial stages of human development using stem cells to uncover what can go wrong during this critical phase and to better understand the underlying causes of early pregnancy loss.
Gaining scientific knowledge about human development has historically been challenging due to technical, ethical and legal
limitations. In light of this, stem cell models show great promise to study infertility, circumventing the need of real human embryos for experimentation. Although many aspects of development remain a black box, we aim to pave the way for a deeper understanding of life’s beginnings, envisioning a brighter future for families worldwide.
Associate Professor Jan Zylicz and his team have developed blastoids, an in vitro model of the human blastocyst, using genetically engineered stem cells that allow them to shut down any gene of interest in order to understand its function in the context of early embryo development.
Human Blastoid. These spherical structures made of 200 cells resemble the human embryo in the blastocyst stage (1 week after the sperm fertilises the egg) and allow us to study how cells organise, change and interact up to this timepoint.
Antar Drews, PhD fellow, Jan Zylicz Lab, reNEW Copenhagen