Mouse Stem Cells Yield Viable Eggs: Method Leads to Births, May Spur Human Fertility Advances

Article excerpt

Some baby mice born in Japan are living proof that mouse stem cells taken from embryos or created by reprogramming fetal tissue can be used to make viable egg cells.

Researchers had already created functional sperm from stem cells, and some groups have reported making eggs, or oocytes, but those had never been shown to produce offspring. Now, Mitinori Saitou of Kyoto University in Japan and colleagues have coaxed mouse stem cells to make eggs that produce normal, fertile offspring, the researchers report online October 4 in Science.

"This is really pioneering research," says Charles Easley, a reproductive stem cell biologist at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta.

David Albertini, a reproductive scientist at the University of Kansas Medical Center in Kansas City, doesn't think the feat will be repeated with human stem cells because they are far less flexible than their mouse counterparts. The new technology might provide a way to test the effect that chemicals in the environment may have on fertility and give scientists new information about how eggs age, which could possibly lead to fertility-extending treatments, he says.

In the new study, Saitou and his colleagues started with stem cells from very early mouse embryos as well as stem cells reprogrammed from fetal cells, known as induced pluripotent stem cells (see Page 13). …