Embryonic Stem Cells Give Birth to Eggs


Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania, in a new paper published in Science, announced that they have transformed mouse embryonic stem cells into eggs. Many researchers see no reason why this shouldn't be possible to do using human embryonic stem cells.

If so, this achievement overcomes one of the main arguments deployed by activists on the left and the right against using human embryonic stem cells to cure diseases. That is, in order to produce embryonic stem cells one must first harvest human eggs using unpleasant, and possilby dangerous, hormonal treatments to cause women to superovulate. This new research may lead to the production of as many eggs as needed to make tissues that would be perfect transplants. They would be perfect because they would be derived from stem cells tailored to be nearly genetically identical to those of each individual patient, thus avoiding the immune rejection problem.

There are of course other profound implicatons of this research which I will discuss in my regular column next week. Perhaps this step will begin to defuse some of the opposition to this important research.