Sunday, May 08, 2005

Human Egg Factories

Science Blog recently included a significant item: Human eggs coaxed from ovarian surface cells.

It seems that scientists have been able to get cells from the surface of human ovaries ("adult ovarian stems cells") to turn into egg cells ("oocytes"). This development has broad implications for biotechnology. As the abstract of the original article notes:

Development of numerous mature oocytes from adult ovarian stem cells in vitro offers new strategies for the egg preservation, IVF utilization, and treatment of female infertility. In addition, other clinical applications aiming to utilize stem cells, and basic stem cell research as well, may employ totipotent embryonic stem cells developing from fertilized oocytes.1

It is much, much easier to harvest ovarian surface cells than to harvest actual egg cells, so this technology will make not only in-vitro fertilization (IVF), but also cloning experiments significantly easier.

Hold on. Our pace toward the Brave New World quickens....

There's no earthly way of knowing
Which direction we are going
There's no knowing where we're rowing
Or which way the river's flowing
Is it raining?
Is it snowing?
Is a hurricane a-blowing?
Not a speck of light is showing
So the danger must be growing
Are the fires of hell a-glowing?
Is the grisly reaper mowing?
Yes, the danger must be growing
'Cause the rowers keep on rowing
And they're certainly not showing
Any signs that they are slowing.2

1. Antonin Bukovsky , Marta Svetlikova and Michael R Caudle, "Oogenesis in cultures derived from adult human ovaries," Reproductive Biology and Endocrinology 2005, 3:17.

2. Roald Dahl, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (Knopf Books for Young Readers, 1964).

Personal Note: My computer is acting mischieviously and it looks like I'll have to reinstall the OS. There may be some delay in this week's posts.

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