Understand the operation of mother cells it has led science to reach great milestones in areas such as regenerative medicine. But that is not all. Now, thanks to a study published in Naturewe know that, in the future, they could be used to obtain embryos with only two parents.
In this case they have obtained mouse cubs without me intervening no female at fertilization. They have used sperm obtained from males and eggs generated from stem cells, also from male mice. It is a historical milestone that has been achieved with very little efficiency; but, even so, it opens interesting doors.
It is believed that in the future it could have many useful applications in humans. But we will have to go step by step. For now, we must improve the efficiency they have achieved with mice. There are reasons for optimism, but without lifting your feet from the Earth.
Mouse babies with two parents, thanks to stem cells
In mice, just like in humans, there are two possible biological sexes. cells with XY sex chromosomes are classified as male, while those with XX chromosomes They are called feminine.
Usually, the gametes or sex cells of XY individuals are the spermwhile those of those with XX cells are the ova. These scientists, however, wanted to see if stem cells could be used to transform those XY into XX.
To do this, they took cells from male mice and turned them into iPS cells. That is, stem cells of induced pluripotency, for its acronym in English. This is a mechanism by which an adult or differentiated cell can be taken and restore pluripotency so that it can transform into any cell type.
Once they got these cells, were grown in the laboratory, waiting for them to make mistakes in their cell division process. This is common and generally dangerous, but in this case, if done in a controlled manner, it could be beneficial. So it was. They saw that as they made mistakes, some lost their Y chromosome. They had gone on to become X0 cells. It only remained that, when replicating, they duplicated that chromosome. Even this is something that can be forced, by subjecting the cells to a drug called reverses.
In this way, they got XX stem cells, still pluripotent. Since they could transform into any cell type, they were guided to transform into eggs, which would later be fertilized with mouse sperm.
Few mice, but very promising results
Altogether, these scientists 630 ovules were fertilizedwhich were later implanted in the uterus of a mouse. only 7 were born, so the efficiency is around 1%. It seems very little, but at least one obstacle that had not been achieved until now has been overcome.
It is too soon to know if it can be extrapolated to humans. However, if it could, the authors of the research believe that it could have two main applications. On the one hand, it would help women with turner syndromewhose cells are precisely X0, with a single X chromosome. On the other hand, it could help couples formed by two men to have children that belong to both. However, here the need for a female uterus would still exist, so it would be necessary to resort to the surrogate bellieswith all the negative that this entails ethically.
Therefore, it is too early to launch the bells on the fly. What these scientists have done is show that the technology is possible. That something that seems science fiction can be done in a lab. Beyond that, much more research will have to be done and the conditions adjusted to make it safe and ethical. Babies of two parents are a long way off, but what they have achieved with these mice is fascinating.