While human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) hold tremendous therapeutic potential, they also create societal and ethical dilemmas. Adult and placental stem cells represent two alternatives to the hESC, but may have technical limitations. An additional alternative is the stem cell derived from parthenogenesis. Parthenogenesis is a reproductive mechanism that is common in lower organisms and produces a live birth from an oocyte activated in the absence of sperm. However, parthenogenetic embryos will develop to the blastocyst stage and so can serve as a source of embryonic stem cells. Parthenogenetic ESCs (pESCs) have been shown to have the properties of self-renewal and the capacity to generate cell derivatives from the three germ layers, confirmed by contributions to chimeric animals and/or teratoma formation when injected into SCID mice. Therefore, this mechanism for generating stem cells has the ethical advantage of not involving the destruction of viable embryos. Moreover, the cells do not involve the union of male and female and so genetic material will be derived exclusively from the female oocyte donor (with the attendant potential immunological advantages). This chapter describes the biology underlying parthenogenesis, as well as provides detailed technical considerations for the production of pESCs.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Molecular Biology