In a remarkable feat, Chinese scientists have claimed that they have been successful in developing initial stage mouse embryos in space. On Sunday, the scientists said that this was the first time ever that mouse embryos were developed on a retrievable microgravity satellite, which will return to the earth next week.
The scientists launched the SJ-10 research probe on April 6, wherein 6,000 mouse embryos were carried in a self-sufficient camber measuring about the size of a microwave oven, Space Daily quoted Duan Enkui, a scientist at the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), as saying. Of these embryos, 600 were placed under a high-resolution camera, which captured images once in four hours for four consecutive days and transmitted them to the Earth.
According to Duan, the photographs showed that the embryos grew from the 2-cell stage, an initial embryonic cleavage stage, to blastocyst, the stage wherein cell differentiation are noticeable, approximately 72 hours after the launch of SJ-10.
Basically, the timing was consistent with the embryonic development on the Earth, PTI quoted Duan via Xinhua. The remaining embryos on the satellite were administered fixatives via injections about 72 hours following the launch to explore the influences of space settings on the development of embryos.
Having achieved the first ever successful development in mammalian embryos in space in history, scientists will now compare the retrieved embryos with samples collected on Earth and undertake further analyses on the profiles of initial development of embryos, when SJ-10 returns to Earth next week in a designated spot in Siziwang Banner in Inner Mongolia. According to previous reports, altogether the probe had a designed life of only 15 days.
It has been reported that the entire bullet-shaped probe is housing 19 experiments, which involve space material, microgravity combustion, microgravity fluid physics, microgravity biological effects, space radiation effects, and space bio-technology.
The studies being undertaken include examining the manner in which space radiation affects the genetic stability of fruit flies and rat cells, in addition to a combustion experiment that will experiment how materials that are used in spacecraft burn in space and discover means of making safer capsules for manned missions in the future.