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Wednesday 26th June 2019

Sperm grown from stem cells

9th August 2011

Human sperm may one day be grown in a laboratory, according to a recent Japanese study.

stem cell

The researchers made use of a new method involving pluripotent stem cells to grow healthy mouse sperm.

Lead author Mitinori Saitou, a professor at Kyoto University's department of anatomy and cell biology, said that researchers could now begin to apply their resources to the study of human infertility.

At the moment, the research team is attempting to produce mouse eggs using the same cells.

Within the body, stem cells are used to produce every other type of cell, organ, and tissue.

For the study, the researchers sourced pluripotent stem cells from female mouse embryos, made a complicated series of biochemical changes to the cells, then transplanted the cells into the testes of mice bred to be totally infertile.

Once the sperm had grown, they were removed from the testes of the mice and fertilised with eggs in vitro.

Saitou said that, after the eggs were fertilised, the researchers made two sets of embryos, and transferred each of these into the uterus of a foster mother.

The foster mothers gave birth to healthy mice with the capacity to reproduce.

Saitou said he believed that researchers would be able to use the knowledge derived from the study to induce human primordial germ cells in humans.

Theoretically, the method could be used to produce large quantities of cells for use in fertility clinics.

Primordial germ cells are cells that can grow into either eggs or sperm.

They are derived from tissue called epiblasts, taken from the inner cell mass of an early stage embryo.

The team had previously studied the biochemical pathways responsible for creating primordial germ cells.

Other sperm studies have tried to do the same as the recent Japanese study, but failed.

A Japanese science ministry official said that none of the other results had been confirmed as repeatable by follow-up studies.

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