Stem Cells: Mice born from eggs created from stem cells!
Let that headline sink in for a minute.
At first glance, these mice look like normal little critters, the standard-issue Mus musculus. And if you looked at their DNA, you probably wouldn’t be able to tell them apart from many other lab mice. Except these are special.
They were created from eggs that came from stem cells.
Yep, that’s right. For decades now, researchers have been able to turn a specific kind of stem cell, embryonic stem cells, into a full blown mouse. As amazing as it seems, that’s a pretty standard lab procedure. An ES cell gets treated in a particular way to create a “fake embryo”, then implanted into a hormone-treated mouse and develops like a normal baby mouse. While that is important for many experiments, it doesn’t help humans much … especially humans with fertility issues.
But these mice are different. Stem cells, both embryonic versions and stem cells created from skin (skin, I tell you!), were coaxed into becoming eggs and then fertilized by male sperm. They grew up to be those whiskery guys above.
This amazing feat, from Kyoto University’s Katsuhiko Hayashi, could one day help us understand how to help humans who have difficulty conceiving. In vitro fertilization may be about to go to the next level.
Science is just awesome. If we wrote this out, it would look something like:
Skin -> stem cell -> egg + sperm (from male mouse -> BABY MOUSE
Simplified, that’s “skin -> BABY MOUSE”
(via Scientific American)