Mouse sperm produced from stem cells, long way before technique could be used for infertile men
Chinese researchers have developed mouse sperm from stem cells in a laboratory. The technique that may help develop treatment for infertile men will now be tested on monkeys.
If the technique yields success and can be used for humans, it might someday be able to turn skin cells from a man into sperm that can pass along his DNA to his offspring. Qi Zhou of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing said that it is a great development, but the research has a long way to go before it is used for infertile men.
In the study, the researchers started with mouse embryonic stem cells found in embryos. In the lab, the stem cells were exposed to chemicals in order to push them to become sperm. The precursors had to be transplanted into the testicles of mice to develop further.
The new technique is considered to be advanced as it eliminates the need for transplants. The researchers put the sperm precursors in a lab dish having testicle cells. The precursors never became fully mature sperm but they developed enough to fertilize eggs. They were injected into 379 eggs and nine baby mice resulted.
John Schimenti of Cornell University in Ithaca, New York has found the results are convincing. He said that the major contribution of the current study will be in basic research into sperm development. He and another expert Renee Reijo Pera of Montana State University were of the view that the technique might someday be used to directly help some infertile men.
In that situation, the process would start with skin cells or other cells from the patient, which could be converted into stem cells having the patient’s DNA. The resulting stem cells would then be put through the process. But definitely, there would be challenges in applying the mouse technique to people.
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