By Rob Stein
Ali Brivanlou slides open a glass door at the Rockefeller University in New York to show off his latest experiments probing the mysteries of the human embryo.
“As you can see, all my lab is glass — just to make sure there is nothing that happens in some dark rooms that gives people some weird ideas,” says Brivanlou, perhaps only half joking.
Brivanlou knows that some of his research makes some people uncomfortable. That’s one reason he has agreed to give me a look at what’s going on.
His lab and one other discovered how to keep human embryos alive in lab dishes longer than ever before — at least 14 days. That has triggered an international debate about a long-standing convention (one that’s legally binding in some countries, though not in the U.S.) that prohibits studying human embryos that have developed beyond the two-week stage.
And in other experiments, he’s using human stem cells to create entities that resemble certain aspects of primitive embryos. Though Brivanlou doesn’t think these “embryoids” would be capable of developing into fully formed embryos, their creation has stirred debate about whether embryoids should be subject to the 14-day rule.
Continue reading by clicking the name of the source below.