Chinese Scientists Develop Mammal Embryos in Space

china_flagChinese scientists say they have developed early-stage mouse embryos in space aboard the SJ-10 microgravity spacecraft, which landed successfully on April 19 after 12 days in orbit.

The SJ-10 research probe, launched on April 6, carried over 6,000 mouse embryos in a self-sufficient chamber the size of a microwave oven, according to Duan Enkui, a researcher with the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS).

Among them, 600 embryos were put under a high-resolution camera, which took pictures every four hours for four days and sent them back to Earth.

The pictures showed that the embryos developed from the 2-cell stage, an early-on embryonic cleavage stage, to blastocyst, the stage where noticeable cell differentiation occurs, around 72 hours after SJ-10’s launch, Duan said. The timing was largely in line with embryonic development on Earth, he added.

The rest of the embryos loaded on the satellite were injected with fixatives at 72 hours after the launch for studies on the effects of space environment on embryonic development, according to Duan.