Science is f*cking rad.
Scientists Create Fully Functional Eggs from Skin Cells
Using skin cells extracted from mice, researchers in Japan have produced fully functional egg cells that were used to produce healthy mouse pups. Should the method work in humans, it could introduce powerful new ways of treating infertility—and even allow same-sex couples to produce biological offspring.
Although I have friends who routinely create muscle cells, bone and neurons out of stem cells, a viable egg is a major and possibly the holy grail of stem cell science. No we cannot have this tomorrow, although I would wager whichever private firm buys the license will work night and day to get approval for human tests.
However before getting too excited I want to throw out the usual caveat about medical breakthroughs and mice. It turns out that rodents make really, really great patients. We have can cure or treat almost anything in mice – diabetes, neurodegenerative diseases, most cancers etc etc. Your pet mouse could almost literally live forever as long as you have enough money and a suitably equipped veterinary center / world class research institute nearby. Unfortunately we’re not mice. Human trials have too often been the cruel rocks against which promising medical breakthroughs get dashed. You could explain away some of that by pointing out that animal studies have a relatively low bar to meet. Human trials get intense oversight that makes it much harder to pull off the kind of sloppiness or flawed experimental design that you see in papers that don’t hold up when someone tries to repeat it later. But there is also a real biological difference between most mammals and us. The Korean guy who cloned dogs and sheep got himself in so much trouble precisely because he assumed that the techniques for cloning other large mammals would work in humans. He filled in a bunch of results based on what he expected to get and then published the filler data as if it was real, like giving a Powerpoint talk with that nonsense Latin filler still in every slide. To his dismay none of that stuff he learned from sheep and dogs did him any good. Another team finally reported success in 2007, two years after the UN banned growing any cloned humans to term.
With that in mind I would say that egg cells on demand is still far from guaranteed, and even if it does happen FDA approval will be a long time coming. But the odds of people alive today having a simple alternative to infertility just got a whole lot better.