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David Turner and Peter Baillie-Johnson interviewed about their research with Gastruloids

last modified Nov 07, 2017 01:55 PM

This month, members of the Martinez Arias Group have published the results of their research on anteposterior patterning in mammalian embryos, using a polarized embryoid body system called Gastruloids.

The paper, 'Anteroposterior polarity and elongation in the absence of extra-embryonic tissues and of spatially localised signalling in gastruloids: mammalian embryonic organoids' appears in Development [

Postdocs David Turner and Peter Baillie-Johnson  were recently interviewed for The Node, the community website for deveopmental biologists, about their backgrounds in science, their current research, and the ethics of using artificial embryos.

David Turner explains why Gastruloids were used:

'Gastruloids have a significant advantage over in vivo systems in that the developmental processes and events we’re interested in occur at a time in the embryo that’s difficult to access and manipulate experimentally. With our gastruloids, we’re able to ask very specific questions about subtle timings of signals in ways which are either very difficult or impossible to do in the embryo, such as pulses of signals at very precise temporal intervals. Compared with in vivo models, gastruloids are relatively inexpensive, easy to manipulate, and amenable to experimental perturbation. Also, because of this ability to recapitulate many of the early developmental processes (mentioned above), our system has the real potential to be used as a way to reduce or replace animals used for research in development, which is central to the aims of NC3Rs (National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research)' [from The Node interview]

Peter Baillie-Johnson discusses their findings:

'Following our study, it now seems as if this careful balance of signalling across the embryo might act to permit an intrinsic symmetry-breaking event in the future posterior, rather than actively instructing the process...

... An interesting feature of gastruloid development is the time over which the events unfold, which in our standard cultures corresponds approximately to the five days after implantation. It’s striking how they always undergo the same progression of changes in gene expression and morphology in this time and this is, for me, a key reason for using them to investigate early developmental events such as gastrulation.' [From The Node interview]


>> Read the Open Access paper 

>> The full interview on The Node 

>> Martinez Arias Lab web resource on Gastruloids

>> Martinez Arias Group page