Scientists have made baby mice from two guys for the first time.
This raises the remote chance that the same approach may be used on humans, however doctors caution that relatively few mice embryos matured into living mouse pups and nobody knows if it would work on humans.
Nevertheless, Diana Laird, a stem cell and reproductive expert at the University of California, San Francisco who was not involved in the research, remarked, “It’s a pretty brilliant method.” It is a significant development in both stem cell biology and reproductive biology.
In a report published on Wednesday by the journal Nature, scientists revealed their work.
They began by extracting skin cells from the tails of male mice and transforming them into “induced pluripotent stem cells,” which can differentiate into a variety of cell and tissue types. Next, through a process including growth and medication treatment, they turned male mouse stem cells into functional egg cells by transforming them into female cells. The researchers then fertilized the eggs and put the embryos into female mice. Around 1% of the embryos, or 7 out of 630, developed into live mouse pups.
This week, research leader Katsuhiko Hayashi of Kyushu University and Osaka University in Japan informed other scientists at the Third International Conference on Human Genome Editing that the pups grew normally and were able to reproduce regularly.
In an editorial published with the findings in Nature, Laird and her colleague Jonathan Bayerl stated that the research “opens up new paths in reproductive biology and fertility research” for both animals and humans. In the future, it may be feasible, for instance, to breed endangered creatures from a single man.
“It might potentially serve as a model for allowing more individuals,” such as male same-sex couples, “to have biological children while avoiding the ethical and legal concerns associated with donor eggs,” they said.
Nonetheless, they raised various warnings. Which is the most notable? The method is incredibly ineffective. It is unknown why only a small percentage of embryos implanted in surrogate mice survived; the causes might be technological or biological. They also emphasized that it is too early to tell if the technique will function at all with human stem cells.
Before employing stem cells to create eggs, Laird added, scientists must be careful of the mutations and faults that may be introduced in a culture plate.
This is the most recent study to investigate novel methods for creating mouse embryos in the laboratory. Scientists in California and Israel generated “synthetic” mouse embryos from stem cells without sperm, egg, or womb from a male parent. These embryos contained the same features as wild mouse embryos up to 8 12 days after fertilization, including a heart-like structure. According to scientists, this achievement might potentially pave the way for the creation of synthetic human embryos for future research.