Scientists from Japan may have the answer to
infertility in women who do not produce eggs. The study, conducted in mice, was
published in Nature
- Scientists have produced artificial mice eggs in the laboratory
from the body cells of mice
- Some of the eggs that were fertilized through IVF and implanted
in surrogate female mice developed into healthy pups
- The research provides the possibility of a breakthrough in the
treatment for infertility in women who cannot produce eggs
. If the study can be reproduced in humans, scientists may be able
to produce eggs from the woman's own cells, which can then be fertilized
and form a baby.
has several causes. It could occur
because of a problem in sperm production in males or a problem in females. At
times, the female does not produce eggs or ova from the ovaries. Medications
stimulate the ovary to produce eggs. Some women continue to
be infertile despite medications.
‘Babies born without the need of an ovary appears to be a possibility.’
egg undergoes complex changes as it changes into a fetus and later a baby. Such
changes that are guided by nature are obviously difficult to replicate in an
artificial setting, and involve ethical issues.
Researchers developed mature eggs from the cells of
mice obtained from the tip of their tails
introduced some genetic changes that converted these body cells into stem
are undifferentiated cells which grow into other types of cells. The stem cells
were then encased in stem cells obtained from the developing ovary or testis
and grown in the laboratory into eggs. The size and organization of genetic
material in these laboratory-produced eggs were similar to that of
The eggs were then fertilized and implanted into the
uterus of surrogate female mice. Some of the eggs developed into apparently
potential as an infertility treatment, this technique has the potential of
preventing genetic diseases that run in families. One researcher has also
suggested that it has the potential of producing babies from two male gay
parents, without the need of a female egg.
definitely has some drawbacks.
- The success rate of the study was very low. Only 11 of the 316
embryos i.e. 3.5% of the embryos that were implanted developed into fully
- The placenta also showed unusual growth.
- There would definitely be some ethical issues involved since it
involves producing life in the laboratory.
modifications to the technique of producing these cells may be required to
improve the success rate of the technique. The results of the study also have
to be replicated in studies in humans. It could be several years before the
technique can be made available in humans, but it is definitely a step forward
in addressing the agony of infertility in women who cannot produce eggs.
- Hikabe O et al. Reconstitution in vitro of the entire cycle of the mouse female germ line. Nature 2016 doi:10.1038/nature20104