Baby mouse

Baby mouse. Photograph by Bridget H

Japanese researchers have turned mouse stem cells into germ cells that give rise to eggs in living mice. These eggs have produced viable offspring through IVF.

This research, which mirrors work already done with sperm, may yield insights into female germ cells, provide unlimited supplies of human eggs, and give leads for treating infertility.

A team at Kyoto University led by Mitinori Saitou began with two types of female mouse stem cells: embryonic stem cells and induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), which result when adult somatic cells are coaxed into a pluripotent state.

The researchers tinkered with a few genes in the cells, turning them into cells very much like primordial germ cells. They then cultured the cells with female mouse gonadal cells, creating a “reconstituted ovary,” which was then transplanted to a mouse ovary or kidney.

There, the cells proceeded to mature into fully-grown oocytes. When the researchers isolated these mature oocytes and used them in mouse IVF, they produced fertile mice, demonstrating that mouse ESCs and iPSCs can be used to generate fully functional oocytes.

Using this technique on humans will be tricky. “Defining the status of such ‘parentless’ human embryos and the biological, ethical, and legal issues they will raise defies the imagination,” Davor Solter, a developmental biologist at Singapore’s Institute of Medical Biology, told ScienceNow.

Via: Eurekalert, Oct 5


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