We all know how to get pregnant or at least should know, but despite so many tips out there boosting the chances of conceiving, the actual first 2 weeks of pregnancy remain an undetectable mystery to science.
A pregnancy test is usually done via markers detecting hormones in specific substances like urine and blood. At the very beginning, though, these hormone levels are just too low to register a positive test. Without actually looking into the womb, nobody can watch fertilized eggs grow. Yes, we understand the process going on, as the embryo (which is basically a mass of cells called blastocyst) starts dropping its outer layer to implant within the uterine lining.
However, only a couple of weeks ago researchers from Rockefeller University were the first to witness and even raise human embryos in a laboratory for the maximum ethically allowable time of 13 days.
The Rockefeller researchers managed to grow an embryo in a lab by giving it insulin and other nutrients so that no lining was necessary. The interesting observation demonstrated that an embryo itself contains the genetic instruction manual for its own development. After only an initial sharing process, it’s not dependent on the mother.
The scientists, of course, won’t start to grow babies in a lab overnight, but they see lots of promise for the development of new models to human growth and valuable insights into why some pregnancies fail.
These artificial human wombs are a strong hint of what can be done to prevent the early loss of lives in the future.