Scientists at Keio University in Tokyo say they have produced cells that will become sperm and ova from ones developed from human skin. They say the achievement is the first of its kind in Japan.
The group of researchers led by Professor Hideyuki Okano found a way to make induced pluripotent stem cells, or iPS cells, visible when they develop into the primordial germ cells that will become sperm or ova.
They made the primordial germ cells glow green when a particular gene appears. They cultivated the cells by adding a special chemical compound.
The scientists say they have confirmed that the primordial germ cells were developed in 5 days.
A research team at Kyoto University says it has developed primordial germ cells from iPS cells from mice and produced offspring through in vitro fertilization.
Keio University Professor Okano says he hopes his team’s research can be used to develop drugs for treating infertility.
In Japan, fertilization of artificially-developed human sperm and ova is prohibited under science ministry guidelines.