Artificial eggs are not a new creation. Scientist have been able to complete the feat using rodent stems cells. However, now scientists at the University of Cambridge have created primordial human germ cells. These germ cells will grow into artificial human egg and sperm cells.
The scientists at Cambridge, who were working with the Weizmann Institute, were able to create the eggs and sperm from skin and stem cells. The Cubic Lane reports that the skin from a patient is used to ensure that the egg or sperm’s genetic make up matches the person it is intended for.
“The technique is to create sexual cells genetically identical to the patients using stem cells of their skin and induced pluripotent stem cells (Ips), cells capable of turning into any other cell in the body without any restriction.”
Keep in mind that actual egg and sperm cells have not, yet, been successfully created. Instead their precursors have been. These egg and sperm germ cells could possibly mature into viable specimens.
“They have managed to create the precursor cells of gametes whose effectiveness rate stands between 25 and 40%.”
According to CBS News, research has found the single gene, known as SOX17, responsible for ordering stem cells to become human eggs or sperm.
“The scientists say this discovery on its own is surprising, because this gene is not involved in the creation of primordial cells in rodents,” CBS News adds that, “In humans, the SOX17 gene is also involved in helping to develop cells of the lungs, gut and pancreas.”
The neat thing is, once a stem cell has been “specified,” or genetically ordered to turn into a specific type of cell, they pretty much do so on autopilot. After the researchers nudge the stem cells in the right direction, by using SOX17 from skin cells, the stems cells started turning into the first stages of eggs and sperm on their own.
Scientist hope to one day help couples with fertility problems. This research could also be used to help gay couples produce children with their own genetic make up. However, the creation of these germ cells could potentially help cure diseases and cancers as well.
In a related Inquisitr report, within the next two years it may be possible for U.K. parents to use two embryos to create one healthy child. Is science taking things too far?
Would you, if it were to become available to the public, consider using stem cells to create artificial eggs or sperm for you to conceive your own child?
[Image via The Guardian]