2004, Max Planck Institute for Molecular Biomedicine
Schöler, Hans R.
In order to reproduce and to ensure species perpetuation, mammals must produce germ cells, i.e., oocyte and sperm cells. In culture, embryonic stem cells differentiate into oogonia, enter meiosis and produce support cells that have follicle-like structures. They further develop into structures very similar to those found in early stages in mouse embryonic development. The use of oocytes derived in culture is important for biological research and various medical applications. This in vitro system can facilitate biological studies, for example, functional studies for induction of PGCs, interaction between somatic cells and germ cells or studies in genetic reprogramming after nuclear transfer into oocytes. We also see a very large potential in medical applications. We believe that through the derivation of oocytes in culture, fundamental understanding of fertility and problems in infertility can be best researched, and through this in vitro system positive and harmful affects can be ascertained. A major initiative will be to use these artificially derived oocytes for nuclear transfer, to study gene function and genetic reprogramming in a defined system and for production of one’s own embryonic stem cells.