Stem Cells Across The Curriculum

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Eggs & Embryos Video

There are many sources of human stem cells including embryonic, adult, and induced pluripotent stem cells (iSPCS). These categories of stem cells differ in their ability to regenerate and differentiate into different cell types. As embryonic stem cells (ESCs) possess strong regenerative power and exhibit the widest range of differentiation potential, they are in high demand by researchers not only for expanding basic scientific knowledge, but also to improve regenerative medicine techniques that utilize ASCs and iPSCs. This demand for human ESCs requires a supply of human eggs, or oocytes. Though the in vitro fertilization (IVF) industry has developed techniques for stimulating the production of multiple eggs from ovaries, there is no FDA approved protocol and no federal regulations as this is a private industry in the U.S. Thus, the short term and long term health effects on young people undergoing ovarian hyperstimulation are at the moment unknown. Thus, some policy makers and activists suggest that ESCs only be retrieved from surplus embryos that were created by the IVF industry but no longer useful. Stem cell researchers, such as Egli, have argued that these surplus embryos are not the best source of experimental material and that incentives must be provided for oocyte provision to create ESCs. Some reproductive specialists are searching for stem cells in ovaries in hopes of creating an endless supply of human eggs in the lab environment using very few samples of ovarian tissues.The following resources review the protocols for ovarian hyperstimulation and egg retrieval and present the arguments for and against payment for oocyte provision for ESC research given the potential health risks and commodification of the body. In addition, a video from the journal Nature highlights the experimental work of the Tilly lab in their search for the ever elusive ovarian stem cell. These studies have received some harsh criticism from his peers, as can be seen by the news item posted by Lovell-Badge. Meanwhile advances continue to be made with animal models while qualitative researchers investigate the impact on egg and embryo providers who are simultaneously seeking reproductive services. Legal guidelines for such bartering for reduced cost of reproductive services has been in place in the UK since 2008.


  1. Video News: March 9, 2009. Rep DeGette on MSNBC’s Hardball with Chris Matthews (11:34 min)Link
  2. IVF Animation: Vidali, A. April 3 2011. IVF Procedure. A Simple Explanation of the In Vitro Fertilization Cycle. Link (3:19')
  3. Video Animation: Dolgin, E. Feb 26, 2012.  Stem cell discovery puts women’s reproduction on fertile ground. NatureVideo. Spoonful of Medicine.  Produced by Erin Olsen, narrated by Rebecca Hersher, and animation and artwork by Katherine Vacari.  MacMillan Publishers. Link.(5:00’)
  4. Documentary Film: Lahl, J. 2010.  Eggsploitation. Center for Bioethics and Culture.  Trailer Link (2:12’)
  5. Infographic: Chamany, K. et al. 2013. Sources of Stem Cells Radial Infographic. Stem Cells Across the Curriculum. Link
  6. News Article: Weintraub, K. April 2012.  Egg Stem Cells. MIT Technology Review. Link
    A discussion of a new company designed to generate human eggs- Ovasciences.
  7. News Article: Gura, Trisha. November 15, 2012. Reproductive biology: Fertile mind. Nature. 491:319-320. Link
  8. News: Lovell-Badge, R. March 12, 2012. Hype, hope and heresy – or why it is bad to eggsaggerate.
  9. Blog Post: Benjamin, R. April 17, 2013. Which comes first: the woman or her eggs? Huffington Post. Link
  10. Article: Egli, D. et al. 2011. Impracticality of egg donor recruitment in the absence of compensation. Cell Stem Cell. 9(4):293-294. Link and Link
  11. Article: Fiore, R. & Hinsch, K. 2011. Oocytes for research: reevaluating risks and compensation. The American Journal of Bioethics.11(9):42-43. Link
  12. Committee Statement: Haimes, E. et al. 2013. ISSCR: Committee Forum. Position statement on the provision and procurement of human eggs for stem cell research. Cell Stem Cell.12(3):285-291. Link
  13. News: Cyranoski, D. 2016. Mouse eggs made from skin cells in a dish. Nature.538(7625):301-301. Link
  14. Feature Article: Aach, J. et al. March 21, 2017. Addressing the ethical issues raised by synthetic human entities with embryo-like features. eLife.6: e20674. Link
  15. Qualitative Research Article: Goedeke, S., et al. 2017. The fate of unused embryos. Qualitative Health Research. 27(10):1529-1540. Link
  16. Policy Guidelines: Human Fertilisation & Embryo Authority:Donation. Link