In a major breakthrough in the field of medical sciences, the researchers have created primordial germ cells to develop sperm and egg.
This is for the first time when the scientists have used human embryonic stem cells to develop artificial sperm and egg. Earlier, the scientists had created sperm and egg using rodent stem cells but this is on the first occasion when the scientists have used human stem cells for the experiment.
The study was conducted by the researchers at Weizmann Institute in Israel and University of Cambridge in UK.
Dr Naoko Irie, study author from the Wellcome Trust/Cancer Research UK Gurdon Institute at Cambridge, said, “The creation of primordial germ cells is one of the earliest events during early mammalian development. This is a stage that we have managed to recreate with the help of stem cells from rats or mice, but until now few researches have done this systematically using human stem cells.”
Lead study author Professor Azim Surani, of the Gurdon Institute, and his colleagues discovered that a gene called SOX17 is critical for directing the human stem cells for becoming primordial germ cells (PGCs).
According to the researchers, PGCs could also be developed from the reprogrammed adult cells like skin cells. This will enable proper investigations on patient-specific cells to advance the knowledge of infertility, human germline and germ cell tumours.
The researchers say the study also holds the potential to better understand the ‘epigenetic’ inheritance process.
The findings of study were published in the journal Cell.