Infertile couples might be able to greatly boost their chances of having a baby by using the genetic discards of egg cells, researchers from the Salk Institute and Oregon Health and Science University said in a new study.
Moreover, the technology could be used to prevent diseases of mitochondria — the cell’s energy factories — from passing into the next generation, the team said.
The scientists transplanted the genetic material into enucleated donor egg cells. The cells were then fertilized with sperm. Some of the embryos developed until the blastocyst stage, about five days after fertilization. No embryos were allowed to develop beyond that point.
Years of research lie ahead before this method can be tapped to actually produce human babies, said Joseph Ecker at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, who was co-senior author of the study. Safety and effectiveness must be studied further and improved.
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