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19 May 2015

Solution to Infertility: Scientists to Create Babies using Adult Stem Cells

In 2 years time, couples with infertility and same sex marriage can have their own baby through an advanced stem cell research program. A team of international scientists have created primordial germ cells, the precursors of human eggs and sperms from adult skin cells which can lead to babies through invitro fertilization.

According to this research, the Israeli and UK scientists have coaxed the induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) or reprogrammed adult skin cells (the stem cells that can differentiate into any type of body cells) to create primordial germ cells which can mature into sperms or eggs. The sperms and eggs that are created from this technique can be manipulated to produce a human life through invitro fertilization. However, the scientists agree that there are many ethical and regulatory issues involved in this research.

Primordial germ cells – In humans, these cells are formed outside the gonads during embryonic development and differentiate into stem cells which later move into the ovaries and testes for maturation. After maturation, they form sperms or eggs. The scientists from Israel and UK have artificially grown these primordial stem cells in the lab using the skin cells of 10 donor patients. They can give rise to both sperm and egg irrespective of the donor’s gender. The lead scientist of the study, Dr. Azim Surani along and his team compared the engineered germ cells with the human stem cells obtained from an aborted foetus and confirmed that they have identical characteristics. The scientists have also found out that some of the genetic issues present in other cells were not reflected in these engineered stem cells.

Earlier, scientists have created primordial germ cells from mice models but did not replicate the same in humans. However, the present study conducted by scientists from Cambridge University and Israel’s Weismann Institute of Science have successfully created the human primordial germ cells and the project study was funded by the Wellcome Trust. The study findings were published in the science journal, Cell.

In 2 years time period, this research could be a milestone in fertility treatment as it will be helpful for couples having IVF treatments. As the sperm and egg are created from adult skin cells regardless of gender, same sex couples can also have babies through IVF treatment. However, the researchers also believe that there are social and ethical implications that need to be solved.



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