Japanese Scientists Turn Blood Cells Into Human Egg Cells

Scientists in Japan have done something that sounds straight out of science fiction. They have been able to successfully create immature human egg cells from human blood for the first time. The team says the work is a breakthrough in stem cell research.

This breakthrough could one day lead to babies that can be created in a lab using body tissue or blood from their relatives. Scientist Mitinori Saitou from Kyoto University contributed to the new research and had in previous research been able to produce mouse eggs and sperm from stem cells. The cells were grown to maturity, in that case, using a simulated ovary made from tissues of fetal mice.

A different approach had to be developed for the new research in creating human eggs. In the new research, human blood cells were used to create induced pluripotent stem cells able to become any type of cell in the body. Those cells were injected into tiny artificial ovaries made using embryonic cells derived from mice.

The resulting eggs produced in that method are far too immature to be fertilized. The team says they do open the door for babies to be made from the genetic material of living or dead relatives. This research would also give a new way for infertile or same-sex couples to have a child with their own DNA.

The scientists are next going to work on creating human sperm and creating eggs that are mature enough for fertilization. Some fear that the new tech could lead to people having the children of others without their consent. Others fear that lab-grown babies could also open the door to kids with serious genetic diseases.

SOURCE: Motherboard