The process of embryo development has been known for long, but a key stage- implantation, is still a mystery. Now, scientists from Cambridge have discovered a way to study and film this 'black box'of development. Their results - which will lead to the rewriting of biology text books worldwide- are published in the journal Cell.
Embryo development in mammals occurs in two phases. During the first phase, pre-implantation, the embryo is a small, free-floating ball of cellscalled a blastocyst. In the second, post-implantation, phase the blastocyst embeds itself in themother's uterus.
While blastocysts can be grown and studied outside the body, the samehas not been true from implantation. And because embryos are so closely connected to theirmothers, implantation has also been difficult to study in the womb.
According to studyauthor Professor Magdalena Zernicka-Goetz of the University of Cambridge: "We know a lot aboutpre-implantation, but what happens after implantation - and particularly the moment ofimplantation - is an enigma."