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28 Mar 2016 8 Comments

Solution To Infertility: Healthy Sperms Created Using Mice Stem Cells

A team of Chinese scientists have successfully created functioning sperm from the embryonic stem cells of mice and injected into female mice eggs. This resulted in normal, healthy offspring and the study findings were published in the journal, Cell Stem Cell.  With further research and clinical studies, this could provide a possible solution to infertility in men.

According to reports, infertility affects about 15% of couples and one-third of cases are due to sperm issues. Usually, the precursor germ cells in the testes undergo meiosis cell division to form sperms and if this process is affected, it may lead to infertility. Although there are treatments available for treating infertility, in most cases they are not effective. The scientists involved in this study believe that their concept could become a treatment option for male infertility in future.

In the study, co-senior author Jiahao Sha of Nanjing Medical University teamed up with other co-senior authors Xiao Yang Zhao and Qi Zhou. They have completely recreated the process of meiosis and produced functional sperms. Thus, healthy offspring were born via the following process:

  1.  They introduced the mouse embryonic cells to a chemical cocktail which coaxed the cells into primordial germ cells.
  2. The primordial germ cells are the precursor cells which are capable of forming other cells. They are then kept in an environment of testosterone sex hormone and testicular cells.
  3. This influenced the cells to form sperm-like cells with the right DNA and contents.
  4. These sperm-like cells were injected into mouse egg cells to form embryos in lab conditions.
  5. The embryos were implanted in the female mice.
  6. The female mice gave birth to healthy babies which later attained maturity and mated to produce next generation offspring.

This shows that the research was successful and produced healthy offspring without any side effects. The authors of the study believe that extensive research must be performed to have a similar effect in humans. However, some scientists mentioned that what works biologically in mice model may not be effective in humans due to the known difference in mice and human germline. Also, they feel that this research requires independent verification.

With further study and clinical research in germline gene therapy, this technique may work in humans to treat infertility.





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