Making Stem Cells in a Lab
Scientists Coax Unfertilized Eggs From Mice Into Embryonic Stem Cells
Dec. 14, 2006 -- Scientists may have found a way to make embryonic stem
cells from unfertilized eggs -- at least in mice.
Lab tests show that it's possible to coax unfertilized eggs from female mice
into "embryonic" stem cells, and to transplant those stem cells back
Those findings come from researchers including George Daley, MD, PhD. Daley
works at Children's Hospital Boston, the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in
Boston, Harvard Medical School, Boston's Brigham and Women's Hospital, and the
Harvard Stem Cell Institute.
"This technique, if proven effective in humans, offers an efficient way
of generating customized stem cells lines from women," Daley says in a
Children's Hospital Boston news release.
The study appears online in the "SciencExpress" edition of
What Are Stem Cells?
Stem cells are cells with the potential to develop into other kinds of
cells. Embryonic stem cells may develop into more types of cells than adult
Daley and colleagues took unfertilized eggs from the ovaries of female
In a series of lab tests, the researchers nudged the eggs to develop into
embryonic stem cells -- even though the eggs had never been fertilized --
through a process called parthenogenesis.
When the scientists injected those stem cells back into mice, the mice's
immune systems accepted the stem cells.
It's not yet clear if the technique is safe for humans.
"Right now this technique is useful for basic research, but we are
hopeful that parthenogenetic cells might prove useful for therapies," Daley
"However, we'll have to demonstrate the safety and durability of cells
derived from parthenogenetic embryonic stem cells before we could imagine any
clinical use," he says.