Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Mouse egg cells made entirely in the lab give rise to healthy offspring

The scientific team of Katsuhiko Hayashi of Kyoto University in Japan has successfully created live fertile offspring from completely lab made egg cells.  This is a huge achievement in the field of fertilization research and could have many possibly uses in the future. These eggs were created from stem cells entirely in a lab dish. The team made fertile egg cells from stem cells back in 2012, however to accomplish the last steps of fertilization, they had to implant the eggs into live mice. This summer, the scientists showed that they can keep developing mouse ovaries in the lab in order to make mature, fertile egg cells.  They use the stem cells to develop immature egg precursor cells, and then culture them in clusters of cells taken from fetal mouse ovaries.  The process resulted in 50 mature eggs, but the lab created cells have a higher rate of chromosome abnormalities than normal egg cells, but 75% of the lab created cells had the correct number of chromosomes. The scientists then fertilized those eggs with sperm cells in order to create 300 embryos, and then injected them into host female mice. Only 11 of them, or 3%, were able to grow and become pups.
Mice derived from lab made eggs were normal, fertile adults.

Though these techniques may one day have applicable uses for humans, they are still far away from their goal.  This process can be used to help infertile people have children. It can also be used to genetically modify eggs in order to get rid of undesired traits or harmful diseases.  It could also help women who lost eggs due to chemotherapy treatment for their cancer. Of course with most scientific discoveries, many ethical issues arise.  Movements toward a designer baby, with specific genetic alterations, could pose serious implications for our species.

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