Researchers in Japan have turned mouse stem cells into egg cells that, in turn, gave rise to healthy offspring.
Katsuhiko Hayashi, Mitinori Saitou and their colleagues at Kyoto University added signalling molecules to female mouse embryonic stem cells, and to female 'reprogrammed' or induced pluripotent stem cells. This process transformed the stem cells into primordial germ cells — precursors to eggs. Culturing the germ cells with embryonic ovary tissue gave ovary-like structures, and after four weeks, the precursors developed into egg cells. The team fertilized the eggs in vitro and transplanted the embryos into foster mothers; the resulting offspring grew up to be fertile themselves.
The work could ultimately yield insights into potential treatments for infertility, the authors say.
Science http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/science.1226889 (2012)
For a longer story on this research, see http://go.nature.com/xuyljd