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Transplanted stem cells become eggs in sterile mice

Oocyte success raises hopes for infertility treatments

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12:00pm, May 18, 2017
Germline stem cells

EGG-CITING DEVELOPMENT  Germline stem cells (orange circles, left) implanted into a mouse’s ovary move to the edge of the ovary (middle) and begin developing into eggs. By day 6 (right) the cells began making a protein called STRA8 (pointed out with red arrow), one sign that they were starting to turn into eggs.

With an assist, an old mouse might be able to make new eggs.

Sterilized female mice produced healthy babies after receiving a transplant of egg-generating stem cells from another mouse, researchers report online May 18 in Molecular Therapy. If such a procedure worked in humans — still a distant prospect — it could help women with early menopause or chemotherapy-induced infertility to conceive.

These egg-generating cells are germline stem cells — precursors that become either eggs or sperm depending on whether they end up in ovaries or testes. While male germline stem cells differentiate (or become specialized) throughout a man’s life to produce a steady supply of new sperm, a woman’s are believed to differentiate into a stockpile of eggs during a relatively narrow time frame before she’s even born. Some recent studies

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