Japanese scientists have created an immature human egg using stem cells created from blood cells, as reported in the Science journal. Although such eggs have been created in a lab before, this is the first time human blood has been used to do it. This marks a leap forward for creating fully-functioning eggs in a lab, allowing infertile couples to have children—though at the moment the eggs created are too immature and cannot be fertilised or grow full children.

While the new advance raises a number of ethical questions regarding the creation of human life in a lab, it does remove the issue of taking stem cells from embryos, as blood cells can be taken from consenting adults.

The issue of growing children in a lab, however, is a volatile one. The technology leaves open the possibility of parents growing children as a supply of health organs in the event of their current children requiring them in the future, or indeed using the genetic makeup of someone else to create an offspring without their consent.

The scientists mentioned that their next focus will be to make mature human eggs and produce human sperm this way. This could not only help infertile couples, but allow gay couples to create children using sperm and egg cells created from their own skin.

 

More on these topics