News ID: 58230
Published: 0228 GMT December 27, 2014

Artificial eggs, sperm created in lab

Artificial eggs, sperm created in lab

Using human embryonic stem cells, scientists for the first time have created primordial germ cells, which go on to become egg and sperm, in the lab.

The pioneering results can help scientists provide answers to fertility problems, yield insight into the earliest stages of embryonic development and enable the development of new kinds of reproductive technology in the near future. The creation of primordial germ cells is one of the earliest events during early mammalian development, wrote.

‘It is a stage we have managed to recreate using stem cells from mice and rats, but until now few researches have done this systematically using human stem cells,’ said first author Naoko Irie from University of Cambridge.

 ‘Researchers have been attempting to create human primordial germ cells (PGCs) in the petri dish for years,’ added Jacob Hanna. PGCs arise within the early weeks of embryonic growth as the embryonic stem cells in the fertilized egg begin to differentiate into the very basic cell types. Once these primordial cells become “specified”, they continue developing toward precursor sperm cells or ova – pretty much on autopilot.

Working with naïve human embryonic stem and pluripotent stem (iPS) cells, the research team managed to produce cells that, in both cases, appeared to be identical to human PGCs. The scientists further tested and refined the method in lab. By adding a glowing red fluorescent marker to the genes for PGCs, they were able to gauge how many of the cells had been programmed. Their results showed that quite a high rate – up to 40 percent – had become PGCs – the first step in creating human sperm and ova.



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