Researchers Created Embryo Stem Cells Out of Skin

No more need for a sperm and egg to conceive?  A new groundbreaking study by the Hebrew University of Jerusalem found a way to transform skin cells into the three major stem cell types that comprise early-stage embryos: the embryo itself, the placenta and the extra-embryonic tissues, such as the umbilical cord.

"The next step, will be to create an entire human embryo out of human skin cells, without the need for sperm or eggs," says Dr. Yossi Buganim head of the research team.

Buganim found a new combination of five genes that, when inserted into skin cells, reprogram the cells into each of three early embryonic cell types—cells which create fetuses, placental stem cells, and stem cells that develop into other extra-embryonic tissues, such as the umbilical cord. These transformations take about one month. This discovery also has significant implications for modeling embryonic defects and placental dysfunctions, as well as solving certain infertility problems.

HU’s study is the first attempt to create all three main cell lineages at once from skin cells.  Further, these findings mean there may be no need to “sacrifice” a live embryo to create a test tube embryo.