Lab Coaxes Eggs From Stem Cells

From Associated Press

A laboratory study suggests that embryonic stem cells can be coaxed to transform themselves into eggs. The research potentially removes a major obstacle to the use of such cells to treat disease.

In a study appearing Friday in the journal Science, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania said they were able to cause stem cells from mouse embryos to transform into oocytes, or eggs, and then to further develop into primitive embryos.

Embryonic stem cells can grow into virtually any cell in the body. Some researchers have suggested they could be used to grow new heart, liver, brain or pancreas cells that then could help revive or repair ailing organs.

Now, eggs are available only from female donors who face a sometimes painful harvesting procedure. But if eggs could be made in the laboratory from stem cells, this would avoid the need for donors.