YUE SHAO wasn’t trying to create an embryo. But, a few years ago, working in a lab at the University of Michigan, he witnessed something mind-boggling. The cells he was working with seemed to assemble themselves into what looked just like an early-stage human.
“We were looking for something else,” says Shao, a bioengineer now at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology – but “serendipity hit”.
The idea that scientists could create the first steps towards human life is astonishing, but Shao’s discovery wasn’t the first. A year before he published his results in 2017, research by a team in Japan led to the birth of live mouse pups using eggs the team made from adult skin cells.