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making embryos from a non-egg cell

In a discovery that challenges two centuries of received biological wisdom, scientists at the University of Bath have for the first time used sperm to fertilise non-egg cells – resulting in live mammalian births.

Eggs can be tricked into developing into an embryo without fertilisation, but the embryos, called parthenogenotes, die after a few days. Scientists at Bath have developed a method of injecting mouse parthenogenotes with sperm so that they can go on in many cases to become healthy pups.

The study is published in Nature Communications and some of the study authors came to the SMC to talk about:

  • The science behind the technique
  • What this discovery means for our understanding of how embryos develop
  • Why the work shows that different epigenetic paths can lead to one place
  • Possible downstream applications, like whether any cell type might one day be ‘fertilised’ by sperm

Roundup comments accompanied a briefing.

 

Speakers:

Dr Tony Perry, Reader in Molecular Embryology, Department of Biology & Biochemistry, University of Bath

Dr Toru Suzuki, Research Associate in the Department of Biology & Biochemistry, University of Bath

Dr Maki Asami, Research Associate in the Department of Biology & Biochemistry, University of Bath

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