In Vitro Gametogenesis: Breaking the Rules of Reproduction

By: Aseniq Shahid-Williams, Grace Randall, Tony Ong

In Vitro Gametogenesis is a new developing reproductive technology that is breaking the rules of reproduction.

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Welcome to CODED, a student-curated magazine that takes an expansive dive into the topic of assisted reproductive technologies, with a specific focus on in-vitro gametogenesis (IVG). IVG is currently an experimental technique that aims to recreate embryos through reprogramming pluripotent stem cells (PSCs)–such as embryonic stem cells (ESCs) and induced PSCs (iPSCs)–to become sperm and egg cells. This technique involves reprogramming somatic, usually skin, cells and then differentiating these iPSCs into IVG gametes that are then able to be potentially combined with other gametes in vitro. While IVG has yet to be utilized in clinical applications in humans, as in vitro derived gametes have only been successfully created from mice stem cells, there is great promise in developing this technique to study and solve both physical and social infertility issues. This also poses some troublesome ethical dilemmas that have been debated by bioethicists and explored further in our project.

Although this experimental technique of IVG is still in its early stages at best, the thought of growing embryos in a lab by reprogramming any sort of embryonic cell (skin, blood, hair) to become sperm and egg cells is both fascinating and terrifying. Our project offers insight into how this emerging technology provides great promise for the future of reproductive medicine, as well as poses great peril in legal and ethical concerns over its use. Our goal coming into this was to present IVG in a comprehensive manner that can encapsulate the excitement and complexity behind this technology. As such, we have created a series of content that intertwines science and fiction to portray the biological and social facets behind this futuristic, yet potentially plausible, assisted reproductive technology. We have also included interviews with notable UCLA faculty such as stem cell biologist, Dr. Amander Clark, and bioethics philosopher, Dr. Anne Le Goff, discussing the future implications of IVG. We hope you enjoy our creative twists in these narratives while learning about what IVG is, and what it holds for the future of reproductive and regenerative medicine.

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