New research advances could be good news for couples who don’t have eggs available and would usually have to rely on donor eggs. Same sex couples or couples with fertility issues could some day grow their very own egg with DNA from both parents – from skin cells. Amazing!
Japanese researchers have made a game-changing breakthrough, using skin cells from mice tails to grow mouse eggs. These eggs were then fertilised and grew healthy mouse pups. Wait, what?!
Stem cell biologist Katsuhiko Hayashi and his team at Kyushu University in Fukuoka in Japan have been working on this project for four years, but this is the first time they’ve managed to make the leap from skin cell to healthy pup successfully.
A lot of science-y tinkering in a lab dish was involved in growing the cells into healthy eggs and the success rate was admittedly quite low. Just 8 mouse pups born from 1348 embryos, but you have to start somewhere, right?
A powerful tool
While we still have a long way to go research-wise, this development hints at the jaw-dropping future of reproductive biology. The team are hopeful that they will some day make a giant leap and help grow healthy human babies from skin cells.
“From a technical point of view it could work,” Hayashi told New Scientist. “If we could make human eggs, it could be a very powerful tool for curing infertility.”
Making eggs from two dads is also high on the agenda. Hayashi says that they are working hard to successfully grow eggs and pups from the cells of two males. The Y chromosome is making it a whole other challenge, but they are most definitely forging on.
While it may seem like the future is now, Hayashi stresses that there is much work to be done.
“At the moment I must say that this kind of system should not be used for the human, because there are big risks,” he told Scientific American.
Despite this, he firmly believes that some day, we’ll be cuddling babies hatched purely from their parents’ skin.
“Sometimes when you know something is possible, it takes off the mental barriers you might have. You start being more optimistic,” Hayashi says.
“I wouldn’t say it’s impossible. I think it is possible.”