Historic! Zero gravity milestone - Embryos grown in space on the International Space Station

In a historic achievement, Japanese researchers have successfully grown embryos in space for the first time, shedding light on space-based embryonic development courtesy an experiment on the International Space Station.

| Updated on: Oct 30 2023, 19:27 IST
Apple's 'Scary Fast' October 30 Event: What to expect
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1/7 Apple Inc. is set to kick off its final product unveiling of the year, and it's taking place on Halloween eve, October 30, at 5 p.m. California time (5:30 a.m IST). This event, known as "Scary Fast," is a deviation from the usual in-person gatherings at Cupertino. Instead, it will be an online-only affair, raising anticipation for what Apple has in store. (@Apple)
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2/7 What to Expect at the Event: Apple has remained tight-lipped about the specifics of the event, but reports from Bloomberg suggest we can anticipate fresh MacBook Pro laptops and iMac desktops. While the design might not see radical changes, the highlight is the introduction of Apple's first M3 3-nanometer processors, a significant upgrade from the previous M2 chips. (Unsplash)
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3/7 The introduction of these new models comes at a crucial juncture for Apple. With the personal computing market rebounding after the pandemic, Apple faces competition from companies like Nvidia and Qualcomm, who are venturing into the PC market. Apple hopes these new products will drive a resurgence in sales, as it has experienced a few quarters of declining revenue. (Unsplash)
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4/7 Although the Mac is no longer at the core of Apple's business, it remains a key revenue generator, contributing about 10 percent of annual sales. Wall Street estimates predict Mac sales to reach just under $8.1 billion in the holiday quarter, an improvement from the previous year, but not as robust as the pre-pandemic period. (AFP)
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5/7 MacBook Pro Upgrades: The MacBook Pro lineup will see updates with high-end models codenamed J514 and J516. These machines will retain a similar look to their predecessors but are expected to feature faster M3 Pro and M3 Max processors. These processors come in various configurations with more CPU and graphics cores, promising improved performance and gaming capabilities. (Unsplash)
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6/7 The Revamped iMac: The iMac lineup is also getting a refresh for the first time in over 900 days. Similar to the MacBook Pros, the design will remain largely unchanged, but internal enhancements and a redesigned stand are expected. These new iMacs, codenamed J433 and J434, will feature the M3 chip and offer different graphics configurations. (Apple)
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7/7 While the event will showcase MacBook Pros and iMacs, a low-end MacBook Pro with the M3 chip won't be unveiled yet. Also, new 13-inch and 15-inch MacBook Airs with M3 chips, codenamed J613 and J615, are in development and scheduled for release in the first half of 2024. As for updated iPads, Apple plans to debut them in the spring. Meanwhile, AirPods will receive updates in the coming years, with new models and headphones on the horizon. (AFP)
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In a historic achievement by Japanese scientists, mouse embryos have been shown to thrive in space, raising hope about reproduction beyond Earth. (Pexels)

In a groundbreaking achievement, researchers from the University of Yamanashi in Japan have successfully nurtured mouse embryos in the unique environment of space under zero gravity. This groundbreaking experiment marks the first time that a fertilized mouse egg has developed into a blastocyst on the International Space Station (ISS).

The Crucial Blastocyst Stage

The blastocyst stage is a crucial milestone in embryonic development, where cells differentiate for the first time into the inner cell mass, which later forms the fetus, and trophectoderm cells that contribute to the formation of the placenta, The Japan news reported.

Their research, recently published online in the journal iScience, involved sending 720 two-cell frozen mouse embryos to the ISS. The research team also designed a special device that allows astronauts to handle early mouse embryos with precision.

Earth vs. Space

Over the course of four days, the team carefully thawed and cultured the embryos. Half of the embryos (360) were cultivated in a device within the Japanese Kibo experiment module, which simulates Earth's gravitational force at 1G. The remaining 360 embryos were cultivated in a zero-gravity environment on the ISS.

Once the cultivation period concluded, the embryos were preserved in formalin and returned to Earth for comparison with embryos cultivated in a similar Earth-based experiment.

The results were striking. In the Earth-based experiment, more than 60 percent of embryos developed into blastocysts. However, the success rate dropped to 29.5 percent in the 1G space test and 23.6 percent in the zero-gravity test on the ISS, as reported.

Professor Teruhiko Wakayama from the University of Yamanashi expressed his thoughts on the findings, stating, "We found that, even under zero-gravity conditions, embryos develop normally until they reach the blastocyst stage."

Furthermore, the research demonstrated that differentiations, rates of DNA damage, and gene expressions of blastocysts developed in zero gravity were comparable to those in other conditions. This suggests that embryos in space can undergo typical development.

An intriguing revelation from the study was that among the 12 blastocysts from the zero-gravity test, the inner cell mass cells in three of them exhibited a unique clustering pattern in two places, as opposed to the usual single cluster. These distinct blastocysts hold the potential to develop into identical monozygotic twins.

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First Published Date: 30 Oct, 19:27 IST