April 16, 2008

Sperm From Skin Becoming a Reality?

In as little as 5 years, scientists may be able to grow eggs and sperm from ordinary body cells, an international consortium of scientists and ethicists announced in a consensus statement yesterday. The technological advance could be a boon for infertile couples as well as for research on reproduction, providing policymakers don't ban the tools, the group says.

Last year scientists announced that they had learned to turn back the clock on body cells (ScienceNOW, 20 November 2007). By inserting a select group of genes, they were able to convert skin cells into pluripotent stem cells (PSC)--cells capable of developing into any type of body tissue. This capability has opened up a whole new world of research--and it's brought closer to reality the possibility of generating embryos from gametes (i.e., sperm and eggs) grown in the lab, bypassing the need to collect oocytes from women.


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