Healthy Mice From Eggs Made Of Skin Cells Grown By Japanese Scientists

First Posted: Oct 18, 2016 06:23 AM EDT

Japan is pretty much cutting-edge when it comes to technology, but they may be playing god when scientists said they managed to create healthy baby mice from eggs - made with mouse skin cells.

The little mice babies born from these artificial eggs are said to be healthy and may even go on to have babies themselves, which gives hope for couples who need fertility treatment - in the far future, at least. BBC news said that the scientists noted there may be more years of study to make the leap of creating artificial eggs for humans.

As for the sperm - well, they were already able to make sperm cells in the lab from immature embryonic stem cells, which are known to morph into any type of cell. A grown-up skin cell is harder to engineer, especially when it has to change into something that it's not. Yet the Japanese team took cells from a mouse tail and reprogrammed them to immature ones once more, coaxing them to eventually become an egg.

Not all the eggs were healthy or viable, but the ones that are were fertilized by sperm in a dish, eventually forming healthy babies. Experts, however, remain skeptical, warning that there are many barriers to using the same method in humans - especially when it comes to safety and ethics.

Harvard Medical School's George Daley said that the work is a "stunning achievement" especially when the egg cells are as powerful as they are: with instructions on how to develop a new organism. The work was a result of over a decade of research, where the team developed ways to derive egg and sperm cells from pluripotent cells - or cells that resemble those from early embryos.

Science Mag reported that the lab-based ovaries were able to produce over 50 mature egg cells. While these eggs had higher rates of chromosome abnormalities, it was observed that more than75 % had the correct number of chromosomes. Out of the number, however, only 3% of the eggs grew into full-term pups, compared to the 62% of eggs taken from the adult mice, fertilized in vitro.

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