Scientists at the Francis Crick Institute have made 3D models of embryonic stem cells that can be used to test and evaluate the safety of drugs for developing embryos.
Before a drug can be approved for pregnant women, it needs to be tested, in particular a safety experiment, which is usually done on animals.
In addition to these experiments, pharmaceutical companies are beginning to develop stem cell tests that could predict outcomes earlier in drug development. However, these stem cells are located differently from developing embryos.
The authors of the new work are researchers of the potential of 3D models of embryonic stem cells or gastruloids. These models, grown under certain conditions, form the same structures as certain parts of the developing embryos.
The team tested their response to seven pharmaceutical compounds, specifically ibuprofen, penicillin, and thalidomide.
As a result, the authors found that gastruloids reacted in the same way as a typical embryo. This means gastruloids can be used in pharmaceutical trials. The authors of the new work propose to conduct primary testing on them in order to exclude drug options that are unsafe for pregnant women.