Scientists devise means of creating viable embryos without eggs

15 September 2016

A new method of creating viable embryos without the use of eggs could have major implications for the way fertility issues are treated in future.

Researchers from the University of Bath have developed a method of injecting mouse parthenogenotes with sperm, allowing them to become healthy baby mice with a success rate of up to 24 per cent.

Previously, it was known that it is possible to make eggs develop into embryos without being fertilised, but these resulting non-fertilised embryos - called parthenogenotes - die after a few days due to a lack of key developmental processes requiring input from sperm.

This was the first time that it has been shown that offspring can successfully be made from non-egg cells, a discovery that challenges two decades of established scientific understanding.

The finding could have potential future applications in human fertility treatment and for breeding endangered species, though this remains many years away.

Dr Paul Colville-Nash from the Medical Research Council said: "This is an exciting piece of research which may help us to understand more about how human life begins and what controls the viability of embryos, mechanisms which may be important in fertility."

Posted by Philip Briggs

 


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