As humanity gazes at the frontiers beyond Earth and takes its first shaky steps toward the stars, questions about our future begin to emerge. One of the things to be tested is species propagation. Can we continue to breed and breed new humans in the microgravity and radiation conditions beyond Earth’s atmosphere as we bravely do?
Now, for the first time, mammal embryos in the microgravity environment of the International Space Station, which orbits the planet almost 400 km above the Earth’s surface, Cultivated. The results showed that the mouse embryos could survive in the space environment at least in the early stages.
The question of whether mammalian embryos can grow in microgravity is a question scientists have been curious about for a long time. There is a possibility of getting pregnant during a trip to Mars, as the trip to the red planet takes more than six months.
To achieve the latest breakthrough, researchers froze fertilized mouse embryos at the two-cell stage and sent them to the International Space Station for the astronauts to thaw and culture them in a machine designed for this purpose. Over the course of four days, the astronauts killed the embryos, and at the end of the experiment, they were placed in paraformaldehyde to be returned to Earth.
There were several sets of embryos. As a control, one set was grown on soil in gravity medium. Another control group was cultured on the International Space Station in simulated Earth gravity, and there was also a microgravity experimental group.
The survival rate of both ISS groups was lower than the survival rate of embryos on Earth. But the embryos that survived grew normally. So, although the persistence rate in space was lower, the fact that they survived is an encouraging sign. There are also factors other than gravity that can contribute to low survival rates in space.
Researchers say that embryos cultured under microgravity conditions turned into blastocysts with normal cell number, internal cell mass and gene expression profile similar to control groups, which shows that gravity does not have a significant effect on blastocyst formation and early differentiation of mammalian embryos.
More studies need to be done to determine whether it is advisable to get pregnant in space. The researchers did not consider the effect of radiation, which is much higher in space. Also, the growth of the embryos stopped at the blastocyst stage, and it is not known whether the growth of the embryos in the uterus leads to different outcomes or not.
Experiments conducted on pregnant rodents have shown that being in space during the critical stages of pregnancy can be associated with fetal development disorders. Offspring of rodents in space showed higher rates of health complications, and a 2005 study found that gravity is essential for normal fetal skeletal and muscle development. Therefore, we need more studies to investigate the impact of space travel on mammalian embryos.
Research findings in the journal iScience It has been published.