In a recent research, scientists of Gurdon Institute in Cambridge have actually made precursors of sperm and egg cells through manipulation of embryonic stem cells. This particular finding may prove to be of great worth for infertile couples. Important to note is the fact that the same technique, when applied to adult humans cells yielded similar results and produced precursors of sperm and egg cells.
The embryonic stem cells were acquired through careful monitoring and a tightly regulated sequence where the cells were provided with the correct nutrition and material to be converted into primordial cells, which is the name given to these ancient or primitive type of cells. All these cells require now, is to be injected into the ovaries and testes in mice where they should undergo maturation and give the final product, the egg and the sperm.
The lead author, Azim Surani said, “It’s remarkably fast. We can now take any embryonic stem cell line and once we have them in the proper conditions, we can make these primordial cells in five to six days.”
This particular finding could aid people all across Britain, where artificial insemination is prohibited by law. taking cells from a person and converting it into a cell having the same genetic makeup as the owner while retaining the fundamental capability to produce off-springs is particularly outstanding and would benefit many.
For this particular procedure, the researchers targeted a gene, named SOX17, and this proved to be a crucial regulator in turning the stem cells into primordial sperm and egg cells.
The researchers believe that there may be another use to this finding. Epigenetics. Using the information locked in these cells, scientists may be able to pinpoint all the age related problems that occur due to exposure of environmental toxins. Since these cells have been wiped clean of such mutations, there might be insight as to how we can do it as well.
“This could tell us how to erase these epigenetic mutations. Epigenetics is used to regulate gene expression, but in age-related diseases, these changes can be aberrant and misregulate genes,” Surani explained.
Another use can be in diseases in which drugs and other therapies lead to infertility and hence improvement of drugs can lead to avoiding this issue altogether,
The findings were reported in the journal, Cell.