Human Embryo Work

The embryonic cells organise around the amniotic cavity, which is marked by the protein podocalyxin (red), to determine the position of the future anterior, a subset of hypoblast cells, which will later give rise to the yolk sac, express the protein Cerberus (green)

HFEA Project – R-0193. Filming of human implantation in vitro

This information page outlines the HFEA approved research with human embryos carried out within the Magdalena Zernicka-Goetz lab in the Department of Physiology, Development and Neuroscience at the University of Cambridge. It is intended for IVF patients who may be interested in donating to our research programs. We currently receive donations from CARE Fertility, Bourn Hall Fertility Clinic, Herts & Essex Fertility Centre and King’s Fertility. The Patient Information Sheet provided to you by your clinic will have more detailed and specific information on donating embryos to research and to the projects carried out at the University of Cambridge. Please ask your IVF specialist for a copy of the Patient Information Sheet.

Click the name to see the website

CARE fertility

Bourn Hall Fertility Clinic

Herts & Essex Fertility Centre

King’s Fertility

All research has been approved by the Cambridge Human Biology Research Ethics Committee and the UK Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA).


Our focus areas include:

  • Understanding the conditions and factors important for human embryo growth at the peri-implantation stage (around 6-7 days post fertilisation) of development.
  • Deepening knowledge about how the cells of the human embryo become specialised during early development and how these different cells interact to form healthy embryos.
  • Investigating how primordial germ cells, which give rise to sperm and eggs, are established.
  • Understanding how the embryo transforms after implantation into the uterus. The embryo at the time of implantation undergoes significant growth, rearrangement and differentiation and these processes are essential to embryo development.

Together, this research aims to increase our knowledge of human embryo development at these crucial stages and may contribute to treatments for infertility and early pregnancy failure. 


Funding

Current funding for this project comes from The Wellcome Trust.


Group publications including human embryo research: 

Integrin B1 coordinates survival and morphogenesis of the embryonic lineage upon implantation and pluripotency transition. Molè M*, Weberling A*, Fässler R, Campbell A, Fishel S and Zernicka-Goetz M. Cell Reports, 2021. Click to see.

Mechanism of cell polarisation and first lineage segregation in the human embryo. Zhu M, Shahbazi M, Martin A, Zhang C, Sozen B, Borsos M, Mandelbaum R, Paulson R, Mole M, Esbert M, Scott R, Campbell A, Fishel S, Gradinaru V, Zhao H, Wu Z, Chen Z, Seli E, J. de los Santos M and Zernicka-Goetz M. bioRxiv, 2020. Click to see.

Developmental potential of aneuploid human embryos cultured beyond implantation. Shahbazi M, Wang T, Tao X, Weatherbee B, Sun L, Zhan Y, Keller L, Smith G, Pellicer A, Scott Jr. R, Seli E and Zernicka-Goetz M. Nature Communications, 2020. Click to see.

Comparative analysis of human and mouse development: From zygote to pre-gastrulation. Molè MA, Weberling A and Zernicka-Goetz M. Curr Top Dev Biol. (2020). Click to see.

Deconstructing and reconstructing the mouse and human early embryo. Shahbazi MN and Zernicka-Goetz M. Nat Cell Biol. (2018). Click to see.

Pluripotent state transitions coordinate morphogenesis in mouse and human embryos. Shahbazi MN, Scialdone A, Skorupska N, Weberling A, Recher G, Zhu M, Jedrusik A, Devito LG, Noli L, Macaulay IC, Buecker C, Khalaf Y, Ilic D, Voet T, Marioni JC and Zernicka-Goetz M. Nature. (2017). Click to see.

Self-organization of the human embryo in the absence of maternal tissues. Shahbazi MN*, Jedrusik A*, Vuoristo S*, Recher G, Hupalowska A, Bolton V, Fogarty NNM, Campbell A, Devito L, Ilic D, Khalaf Y, Niakan KK, Fishel S and Zernicka-Goetz M. Nat Cell Biol. (2016). Click to see.

Self-organization of the in vitro attached human embryoDeglincerti A, Croft GF, Pietila LN, Zernicka-Goetz M, Siggia ED and Brivanlou AH. Nature. (2016). Click to see.

For more information on the group conducting this research please click here