Embryoid Bodies for Birth Defects Research

embryoid bodies to detect hazardous compounds

All cells of the developing human derive from the inner cell mass (ICM) of blastocyst stage embryos, present at 5 days after fertilization. We use human ES cells (hESCs) to produce embryoid bodies (EBs) which execute differentiation that models early development in vitro to form all three primordial germ layers (endoderm, ectoderm, and mesoderm). Thousands of EBs can be produced from a single pre-existing federally-approved human ES cell line. We are using EBs to assess the risk of chemicals (teratogens) that have the potential to cause birth defects, and to study mechanisms of teratogenesis. Our aim is to improve human reproductive safety and to protect children from birth defects that arise from teratogenic chemical (pollutant) exposure and pharmaceuticals.