Headless Human Embryos Grown For Organ Harvesting in Fake Mechanical Wombs

Headless Human Embryos Grown For Organ Harvesting in Fake Mechanical Wombs

Headless Human Embryos Grown For Organ Harvesting in Fake Mechanical Wombs

According to MIT Technology Review a new start up in Israel wants to copy you, grow headless embryos in a fake mechanical womb so that your organs can be sold on the open market.

The strange part is, the claim is made that growing embryos without heads or brains somehow solves all the ethical difficulties.

Idea Behind the Headless Embryo

  • Take stem cells from any given individual, such as you or me.
  • Modify the genetic code of those stem cells to prevent the formation of a human head (or brain) when developing as an embryo.
  • Seed these genetically modified cells into fake mechanical womb and grow an artificial human embryo without a head.
  • This somehow “avoids ethical dilemmas”

Let’s find out a little more about these headless embryos

What is a Mechanical Womb?

A year ago, specialist showed off a “mechanical womb” in which he managed to grow natural mouse embryos outside of a female mouse for several days. The system involves spinning jars that keep the embryos bathed in nutritious blood serum and oxygen.

Mouse embryos in mechanical womb from the 2021 study
Image of Mouse embryos in mechanical womb from the 2021 study

With the use of the mechanical womb, scientists have managed to grow synthetic mouse embryos further than ever before, to the point where hearts started beating, blood began moving, and there was the start of a brain and a tail.

“The embryos really look great, they are really, really similar to natural embryos. Analyses show the synthetic versions are about 95% similar to normal mouse embryos, based on the mix of cell types inside each.”

Jacob Hanna, a biologist at the Weizmann Institute of Science

What is a Headless Embryo?

What is a Headless embryo

In the next set of experiments, they are moving past mice. Jacob Hanna is using his own blood or skin cells as the starting point for making synthetic human embryos. It means his lab could soon be swimming in hundreds or thousands of genetic clones of himself.

There is debate as to whether synthetic embryos have any rights, or if they can ethically be used as fodder for science and medicine. In the US, the National Institutes of Health has, in some cases, declined to fund studies on synthetic embryos that it believes would be too close to the real thing.

Jacob Hannah has a plan to get around this limitation, headless embryos. According to him, it’s possible to genetically engineer the starting cells so the model embryo never develops a head.

He believes restricting its potential development could help avoid ethical dilemmas.

“We think this is important and have invested a lot in this. Genetic changes can be made that lead to no lungs, no heart, or no brain.”

Jacob Hannah

I know Jacob Hannah would like everyone to believe growing babies without a head solves all the ethical issues, but does it?

Does Growing Headless Embryos Solve the ethical issue?

I have to say, no it doesn’t. How does Mr. Hannah know where consciousness resides in a human body? It has never been scientifically proven that consciousness resides in the brain. Never, not one scientific study can make this claim!

Take the case of the 44 year old French man born without 90% of his brain who lives a normal life.

How then, does Jacob Hannah make the claim growing embryos without a head somehow means they do not have a conscience? If you ask me, the one without a conscience might just be Jacob Hannah!