Dec 27, 2014 06:16 PM EST
In a significant development in the science world, scientists have used human skin cells and embryonic stem cells to create gametes. This breakthrough at the University of Cambridge is the first for human cells. They had first successfully developed egg and sperm in rodents. And now the same procedure they had used is the same one they employed to give these remarkable results in humans.
The sex cells created through this procedure have the ability to grow into mature eggs and sperm. Researchers now intend to inject these cells into mouse testes or ovaries to see if the cells will undergo full development in the animals.
These the study led by researcher Azim Surani was published in the journal Cell on Dec. 24. Noticing that women's skin cells cannot be used to make sperms because they don't have a Y chromosome, the team investigated men's skin cells which can be used to make both eggs and sperm because they have both the X and the Y chromosomes. And they developed further research which will have to be conducted to determine whether the eggs created using a man's skin cells will perform as they ought to.
These findings are a step towards helping couples dealing with infertility issues. Gay couples could potentially be able to produce children whose genetic makeup matches their own. In addition, germ cells created during this experiment could be used to cure cancers and other life-threatening diseases. The new discovery the study has brought will also help in the study of epigenetic inheritance. Diseases associated with aging could finally be developed using this information.
Allan Pacey is a lecturer at the University of Sheffield. Commenting on the latest findings, the andrology lecturer said the cells Surani and his team developed could also be used to find out why chemotherapy cause infertility in men. This could positively contribute in the development of new anti-cancer drugs that are less harmful to sperm.
In the past, scientists have been largely successful in creating egg and sperm cells using skin cells in rodents. They have, however, struggled to replicate that success with human skin cells. Japanese scientists in 2012 made baby mice using eggs they had created from mouse stem cells. And likewise, the whole process took Azim and his team only five days to complete.
Scientists are hopefully that this new study will better helpp them understand how eggs and sperm are created and grow to maturity. Also, they hope to see the differences between sperms from infertile and fertile people. Surani sees these findings as the foundation for many more discoveries yet to come.
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