by Pregnancy.org Staff
In the news: Researchers in Japan have used embryonic stem cells to grow healthy mouse sperm in laboratory conditions. This development could help human infertility!
This remarkable discovery published in the journal Cell, is a pivotal step toward using stem cells for regenerative medicine.
Stem cells are your body's "master cells" and source of all cells and tissues. Stem cells are unique because they can grow and become different types of cells, and recreate themselves. Experts in this field would like to harness these special cells to treat and possibly cure diseases and disorders like cancer and diabetes.
Scientists at Kyoto University took stem cells from mouse embryos and turned them into a type of precursor cell known to grow into either mouse eggs or sperm. The researchers transplanted these cells into the testes of infertile male mice (which produced healthy sperm after the procedure).
"The sperm were removed directly from the testes and fertilized with eggs (on laboratory dishes)," said lead author Mitinori Saitou, a professor at Kyoto University's department of anatomy and cell biology. "After insemination, we made two set of embryos and these were transferred into the uterus of the foster mother and they derived healthy mice (that went on to reproduce normally)."
Is it possible to grow human sperm?
The experiment showed scientists how they can prepare precursor cells to eventually grow into sperm or egg.
"We have huge materials to work with now and ... we can accelerate our study into the cause of human infertility," Saitou told Reuters by telephone. The team concludes that this procedure shows it could be possible to use human stem cells to grow human sperm and combat human infertility.
"We can possibly use this knowledge to induce human primordial germ cells (cells that grow into eggs or sperm)," Saitou states. The researchers go on to say that more work is needed due to the vast space between animal and human research. Their next task is trying to create mouse eggs from mouse stem cells.
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