The greenish glow in the petri disha marker for the presence of germ cellsshowed that veterinary-school researchers had succeeded in a decade-long quest to get male-mouse stem cells to develop into eggs. By Joan P. Capuzzi Giresi
It was a quiet little experiment, the product of a pensive scientists restless imagination. A purists quest. But when Dr. Hans Schöler, working in his lab at the veterinary schools New Bolton Center, transformed embryo cells from male mice into oocyteseggsin a petri dish, he also spawned protest, praise, and bad-pun headlines.
The religious called his work evil. The bioethicists asked if it was good for society. The skeptics said, Ö but show us more. Infertile heterosexual and gay male couples clamored for help in procuring eggs so they too might procreate.
Everyone had an interest for the sake of his or her own genetic material, says Dr. Karin Hübner, Schölers research-analysis manager and lead author on the groundbreaking paper, Derivation of Oocytes from Mouse Embryonic Stem Cells, published in Science Online and Science Magazine in May.
Contributing to the frenzy was the mass media, whichwith distorted coverage and a spate of silly headlinesseemed to ignore the fact that the experiments were performed on mice, and not humans.
But the true
significance of Schölers work was not lost on the scientific community.
Dr. John Gearhart, the C. Michael Armstrong Professor of Medicine
at Johns Hopkins, whose lab was the first to isolate human embryonic
germ cells, calls the discovery brilliant. An absolute technical
tour de force, says Gearharts partner in the project, Dr. Peter
J. Donovan, associate professor at Thomas Jefferson Universitys Kimmel
Cancer Center in Philadelphia. Dr. Ian Wilmut, leader of the Roslin
Institute team in Scotland
They have shattered another dogma, says Dr. Jose Cibélli, Michigan State University professor of animal biotechnology and one of the founders of Massachusetts-based cloning pioneer, Advanced Cell Technology, Inc. We knew we could make any cells from embryonic stem cells. But we would never have dreamed of having eggs produced from embryonic stem cells.
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The Most Amazing Cell