General, Research, Technology

We are close to making children from stem cells. What is the threat?

In 2007, a team of researchers reported a startling discovery: they created sperm-like cells from stem cells, полученных из костного мозга человека. However, two years later, the study was removed due to allegations of plagiarism. Thirteen years later, the ability to create functional human sperm from stem cells remains a challenge for many scientists around the world. After all, this could once and for all solve the problem of people who cannot conceive a child. And at the same time get hope for further evolution. And judging by the results of research, getting sperm from stem cells is much more realistic than falling into a black hole.

With the help of bone marrow, humanity is on the verge of reproductive evolution


  • 1 Is it possible to create germ cells from stem cells
  • 2 How it differs from IVF
  • 3 Cultured eggs
  • 4 Why is it dangerous to grow children from stem cells?

Is it possible to create sex cells from stem cells

Scientists have tried to figure out how to createfunctioning human gametes - eggs and sperm - from stem cells for 20 to 30 years, says Vittorio Sebastiano, a biologist at Stanford University whose research focuses on reproductive biology. It will help people struggling with infertility to have children, and scientists will be able to reveal the secrets of the humandevelopment. Since 2007, they have made significant progress in this direction, creating healthy baby mice from gametes generated by stem cells and even immature human eggs. But there is still a long way to go before scientists can transform bone marrow into human babies.

We're really trying to find ways to efficiently and reliably generate sex cells that can be used to conceive children in the short term, ”says Sebastiano.

How it differs from IVF

When the first child was born in 1978, conceived with in vitro fertilization (IVF), это стало большим шагом вперед в репродуктивной science and a harbinger of stem cell research conducted today. But IVF is not suitable for every person or couple trying to have a baby. For example, it cannot be given to someone who was born without gametes or received aggressive cancer treatment at a young age. The new scientific method will give these people a new chance to have their children.

The next important step was taken in the 2000s, when the induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs)... These cells are obtained from blood cells or skin cells andreprogrammed to turn them into embryonic cells that can develop in the body. Since then, researchers have been trying to figure out how to turn these embryo-like cells into functional sperm and eggs.

Colony of induced pluripotent stem cells used to treat a rare genetic disease - Fanconi anemia.

According to Sebastiano, this work is partlycomplicated by the fact that scientists could not fully understand what happens to the human embryo during normal development. Scientists are analyzing this process in mice, because rodents are easy to study in the laboratory. But ethical limitations and technical factors (for example, access to embryos at the right time) make it difficult to study this phenomenon in humans.

Artificially grown eggs

Despite the obstacles, scientists have achievedsignificant progress over the past 10 years. In 2012, a team of researchers in Japan created fertilized mouse eggs from stem cells and used those eggs to breed healthy mice. In this way, scientists have shown that you can make these cells become fully functional eggs or sperm.

A team of scientists was able to convert mouse embryonic stem cells into cells that function as sperm.

In 2018, the same group of Japanese scientists made another major breakthrough. Using human blood cells and pluripotent stem cell technology, they were able to produce human ovum.

According to scientists, similar attemptsare undertaken to create sperm. There have been several experiments over the years to create sperm-like cells, including during a bone marrow study in 2007. We will probably be able to generate fully functional sperm and eggs in the next few years. However, the question will be how scientists will test the quality of these gametes.

The first embryo in the history of science created withoutready-made eggs and sperm. This was achieved by growing an embryo from stem cells directly in a Petri dish on a microscopic 3D frame made of gel.

Why is it dangerous to grow children from stem cells?

The only way to fully appreciate the quality andthe functionality of a sperm or egg is to use them, that is, to try to fertilize another gamete and give birth to a child. That is why this work must be approached with extreme caution. Once scientists have developed methods that they believe will produce mature human eggs and sperm, the next step is to test these developments in primates. In this way, researchers can trace the entire life of individual animals raised using this method to see if any unexpected problems arise, Sebastiano says.

If you are interested in such studies, subscribe to us in Yandex.Zen, so as not to miss new materials!

The biologist has no doubt that one day these stemcells can help people struggling with infertility to produce healthy babies. Of course, there are also important ethical considerations that need to be carefully considered. He notes that this method can affect human life at a generational level. And many people are also worried about other implications in the future, such as the ability to create "designer babies" or produce offspring from hair stolen from unsuspecting celebrities. It is necessary to start working out the medical and legal issues associated with this method now before it becomes viable.

Obviously there is a need to create babies in this way, but since we are indeed dealing with a very unique type of cell ... we need to be careful.