The Times Online today reports that primitive human sperm and eggs and the germ cells that make them have been created from embryonic stem cells in an experiment that promises new treatments for infertility.

The achievement transforms scientists’ ability to study the development of the human reproductive system and has already helped to confirm the importance of several genes to egg and sperm (gamete) formation. It could eventually open new approaches to restoring or preserving fertility, such as gene therapies that stimulate gamete production in the testes or ovaries to allow natural conception.

The research, by a team at Stanford University in California, also advances the prospect of creating synthetic sperm and eggs in the laboratory to allow men and women who make none to have their own genetic children.

Posted on behalf of Shirley Jayasekara