Fertile mice pups birthed from egg cells made in dish
In an October 2016 Nature article¹, a team of Japanese scientists led by Katsuhiko Hayashi, revealed their success in making mouse egg cells in a dish, and using those eggs to successfully produce fertile mice pups. In 2012, the team took mouse skin cells and transformed them into egg cells by reprogramming the cells into into primordial germ cells. These primordial germ cells “emerge as an embryo develops, and later give rise to sperm or eggs.”² Live mice were then necessary to transform the primordial germ cells into mature eggs. This was done by transplanting the newly transformed primordial germ cells into the mice’s ovaries. In July 2016, another team of researchers led by Tokyo University researcher Yayoi Obata, was able to not only transform skin cells into primordial germ cells but also induce the maturation of these primordial germs cells into egg cells - all without the use of live mice. Following in-vitro fertilization with the matured cells, Obata’s team yielded the birth of 26 healthy fertile mice pups.
The results of this experiment have ignited interest in using similar processes to produce mature human eggs outside of the body as well. It is speculated that this could be used in fertility treatments and as a potential means of conception for same-sex couples. As of 2014, it was already possible to create human primordial germ cells in a dish³ and, with the success of Obata’s team, the prospect of maturing human primordial germ cells into egg cells in a dish seems all the more possible.
Hikabe Orie, “Nature,” Macmillan Publishers Limited, Springer Nature, October 2016, http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/nature20104.html
David Cyranoski, “Nature,” Macmillan Publishers Limited, Springer Nature, 17 October 2016,http://www.nature.com/news/mouse-eggs-made-from-skin-cells-in-a-dish-1.20817#/b1
David Cyranoski, “Nature,” Macmillan Publishers Limited, Springer Nature , 24 December 2014, http://www.nature.com/news/rudimentary-egg-and-sperm-cells-made-from-stem-cells-1.16636