Scientists in the UK have proved that human embryonic stem cells can develop in the laboratory into the early forms of cells that eventually become eggs or sperm. Their work opens up the possibility that eggs and sperm could be grown from stem cells and used for assisted reproduction, therapeutic cloning and the creation of more stem cells for further research and for the improved treatments for patients suffering from a range of diseases.
Behrouz Aflatoonian will tell the 21st annual conference of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology today (Monday 20 June) that the research also solves the practical and ethical problems associated with obtaining human samples of primordial germ cells (PGCs), which are the ancestral cells that eventually form eggs and sperm (gametes). “Investigating the mechanisms of human primordial germ cell and gamete development is important for understanding the causes of infertility and the potential harmful effects of environmental chemicals on reproductive development,” he will say. “But at present it is very difficult to obtain human samples of these cells as they only occur early in development.”
Mr Aflatoonian, who is a PhD student in Professor Harry Moore’s laboratory at the Centre for Stem Cell Biology, University of Sheffield, UK, said that studies with mice embryonic stem cells had shown that they were capable of differentiating into PGCs and subsequently eggs and sperm, so he set out to see if the same applied to human embryonic stem cells (HESCs).
Emma Mason | alfa
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The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.
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