Toward human egg-like cells in vitro

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Science  19 Oct 2018:
Vol. 362, Issue 6412, pp. 291-292
DOI: 10.1126/science.aav3479

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An increasing percentage of couples suffer from infertility, partly related to rising reproductive age. Extensive research efforts seek to understand the causes of idiopathic infertility, such as defects in germ cell (egg and sperm) development (gametogenesis). However, gametogenesis is a long differentiation process that begins in utero in the developing fetus, hampering research. On page 356 of this issue, Yamashiro et al. (1) describe the generation of human oogonia-like cells (precursor egg-like cells) from male and female human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs), following an in vitro differentiation approach that had been successfully applied to generate mature mouse eggs in vitro (2). Generating human germ cells in vitro is an important advance toward improving human reproduction because it will assist scientists and clinical embryologists to identify critical modes of regulation and to develop clinical treatments that support the formation of healthy gametes.