Thanks to the work of a group of Israeli scientists, we’re one step closer to being able to grow human babies in artificial wombs. The scientists, led by Professor Jacob Hanna, have successfully extracted 250 embryos from pregnant mice and placed them in a contraption designed to simulate the uterine wall and give the embryos the right conditions to grow.
“We have grown hundreds of mice in this way, in a method that has taken seven years to develop, and I’m still captivated every time I see it,” said Hanna, who works at the Weizmann Institute of Science, a public research university in Rehovot, Israel. “This could be relevant to other mammals, including humans, though we acknowledge that there are ethical issues related to growing humans outside the body.”
Hanna and his team have revealed their breakthrough in the peer-reviewed journal Nature, a multidisciplinary publication known for publishing the finest research from a variety of academic disciplines.
Previous experiments of this kind involved fetuses with already developed organs, such as when the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia grew fetal lambs for over four weeks in artificial wombs back in 2017. The Israel-based team started with five-days old embryos consisting of just 250 cells, placing them into a special liquid to provide nourishment.
“By day 11, they make their own blood and have a beating heart, a fully developed brain. Anybody would look at them and say, ‘this is clearly a mouse fetus with all the characteristics of a mouse.’ It’s gone from being a ball of cells to being an advanced fetus,” explained Hanna.
While this experiment certainly invokes unsettling scenes from the movie Matrix, with machines growing humans in massive quantities to extract electricity from their bodies, scientists are still a long way from applying the research to create life outside the human body. It’s even possible that the ethical issues surrounding such research will lead to its bad, or at least a heavy regulation.
Abu Dhabi’s Hub71 To Help Climate Technology Startups
The initiative was announced at the COP28 summit and will help selected startups with a $200,000 cash injection and further incentives.
Hub71, Abu Dhabi’s global technology system, has launched a new initiative to support climate technology startups backed by several of the UAE’s largest public and private sector organizations.
A total of 342 startups have submitted applications so far, with the top companies being added to a shortlist that will be revealed shortly. Selected startups will receive Dh250,000 ($68,000) in incentives and an upfront cash support package of Dh250,000. In addition, the top performers of Hub71’s new initiative will also receive a top-up of up to Dh250,000 in exchange for additional equity.
Ahmad Alwan, deputy chief executive of Hub71, said: “This initiative aims to bring in different entities that have a shared mission towards climate tech […] Throughout the journey, we will support these companies, not only from being startups to becoming mature companies but also to facilitate their engagement with entities that would support them with access to capital, market, and talent”.
The Hub71+ ClimateTech ecosystem is backed by the Abu Dhabi National Energy Company and the National Central Cooling Company, who have each pledged Dh500,000 to the initiative as anchor partners.
They are joined by corporate partners, including Abu Dhabi holding company ADQ, Aldar Properties, sovereign wealth fund Mubadala, First Abu Dhabi Bank, Masdar City, and Dubai’s Emirates NBD. In addition, Siemens Energy is also onboard as an anchor partner.
So far, Hub71 has helped 260 member startups and created over 1,000 jobs, according to the organization’s website. In addition, it has collectively raised around Dh5 billion since its foundation in 2019.