The U.S. magazine Science chose the achievement by Japanese researchers to produce eggs from artificially derived multipurpose stem cells as one of the top 10 scientific breakthroughs of 2012, the journal said in its issue out Friday.
The accomplishment by the team of researchers, led by Kyoto University professor Michinori Saito, unveiled in October, “provides a powerful tool for studying genes and other factors that influence fertility and egg cell development,” the magazine said.
For the first time ever, the scientists succeeded in using mice to generate ova from induced pluripotent stem cells that can grow into any type of body tissue, and using the ova to produce mice offspring through in vitro fertilization.
The journal said the technique has yet to be applied to human cells because it poses ethical problems. “But having a better way to study the genes and other factors that influence egg cell development could help researchers understand some kinds of infertility,” it said.
Saito said he was surprised to learn his team’s achievement made it to the list.
The magazine chose the observation by the Swiss-based European Organization for Nuclear Research of an elusive subatomic particle, known as the Higgs boson, as the most important scientific discovery of this year. The Higgs boson is the most fundamental particle that gives mass to all other elementary particles.
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