Researchers have manufactured eggs that will allow infertile females to give birth to children.
Scientists have made mammalian eggs that can be fertilized to produce healthy children. This is the first time that eggs have been made from scratch and that too without the help of an animal.
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Even though the research was conducted on mice and only on eggs, it holds scope for the future of infertility in human beings. This may even mean that sometime in the times to come, a human being could be made in the lab without any aid of male or female gametes.
Once the experiment is successful in animals, it will be a cinch to accomplish the same in other species including humans. This may help mankind reverse the mammalian extinction which is going on today.
Thus not only would infertile humans benefit from the scheme of things but extinct species could be brought back from the verge of extinction. Yet there lie several hitches along the way. It will be several years before this technique is refined till the point where it would be suitable in humans.
There exist ethical issues surrounding the making of babies without parents. The nightmarish images of a 1984 and Brave New World state arise when we think of how the government may dispense with such things as domestic family life and love thanks to this potent biotechnology.
In the experiments which took place, stem cells were obtained from mice embryos and mature cells were taken from the tips of mice tails. The latter were used to create induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells.
These can convert themselves into any of a number of different tissues. Both kinds of cells were cajoled into developing into eggs in the final analysis.
A large part of the work that was done involved mixing the stem cells with gonadal somatic cells. These were taken from 12 day old mice embryos. They play a crucial role in egg formation.
A number of the eggs that formed were fertilized using IVF techniques. The embryos that got produced grew into healthy offspring. Although the success rate was low, this experiment holds seminal importance in the annals of biological science and genetic engineering.
A paper on this research, titled "Reconstitution in vitro of the entire cycle of the mouse female germ line," got published in the journal Nature.