Israeli researchers have developed human uterine tissues in the laboratory, which may lead to the creation of babies without pregnancy and birth.
This was reported on Thursday by the Ichilov Hospital in the coastal city of Tel Aviv.
The researchers, from the hospital and from Tel Aviv University, grew a tissue that mimics the structure and activity of the uterus.
The tissue includes layers of different types of cells that respond to hormones and external stresses.
The researchers also engineered blood vessels that could provide oxygen and nutrients to the tissue to keep the embryo developing.
The researchers reported that they clearly saw that the tissue they created reacting just as natural.
In the next phase of the experiments, the researchers plan to print the uterine model in a three-dimensional (3D) printer and implant embryonic cells to see if they can take root.
So far, tissue engineering uses basic cells such as stem cells to repair damaged organs, while in the new study this innovative technology was used to create an organ from zero.
The natural candidates for artificial uterus are women who have no uterus for genetic reasons, or because of diseases, such as cervical cancer.
In these cases, surrogacy is a difficult and expensive option, and there are sectors in which there is a religious prohibition against performing it. The new method may enable them to have children.
Another option for women who cannot conceive is a uterine transplant, but it is controversial in terms of efficacy, safety and ethnicity.
Creating new life outside the body also involves difficult ethical dilemmas, so there are countries that forbid embryos in the lab for more than two weeks the time when their nervous system begins to develop.
Israel has not signed such convention in the matter, and there is currently no specific local legislation limiting the duration of the embryo in the laboratory.