Researchers have found a way to turn skin cells into embryonic stem cells, which could lead to the creation of a complete embryo from skin cells. The research conducted on mice has significant implications for modelling embryonic disease and placental dysfunctions. The study was published in Cell Stem Cell. Dr Yossi Buganim & his team discovered a set of genes capable of transforming murine skin cells into all three cell types that comprise the early embryo: the embryo itself, the placenta and the extra-embryonic tissues, such as the umbilical cord. Now, the Hebrew University research team, headed by Dr Yossi Buganim, Dr Oren Ram from the HU's Institute of Life Science and Professor Tommy Kaplan from HU's School of Computer Science and Engineering, as well as doctoral students Hani Benchetrit and Mohammad Jaber, found a new combination of five genes that, when inserted into skin cells, reprogram the cells into each of the three early embryonic cell types -- iPS cells which create foetuses, placental stem cells, and stem cells that develop into other extra-embryonic tissues, such as the umbilical cord. These transformations take about one month. The HU team used new technology to scrutinise the molecular forces that govern cell fate decisions for skin cell reprogramming and the natural process of embryonic development. Recently, attempts have been made to develop an entire mouse embryo without using sperm or egg cells. These attempts used the three early cell types isolated directly from a live, developing embryo. However, HU's study is the first attempt to create all three main cell lineages at once from skin cells. Further, these findings mean there may be no need to "sacrifice" a live embryo to create a test tube embryo.