Scientists have figured out how to create sperm from stem cells to produce a healthy offspring.
A study published in the journal Cell Press summarized the work of researchers who were able to genetically engineer functioning mice sperm cells from stem cells. These sperm cells were injected into egg cells and produced fertile offspring.
“Reproducing germ cell development in vitro has remained a central goal in both reproductive biology and reproductive medicine,”Nanjing Medical University researcher Jiahao Sha said about the study he worked on . “We established a robust, stepwise approach that recapitulates the formation of functional sperm-like cells in a dish. We think that it holds tremendous promise for treating male infertility.”
Until now, researchers have struggled to create useful sperm and egg cells in the lab – especially as certain gold-standard criteria have to be checked in the process. These include showing a normal number of chromosomes and organisation within the cells, as well as a correct nuclear DNA content.
Men who suffer from fertility when their sperm cells cells fail to divide in the testes. Stem cells, however, can divide normally when cultured.
Even though this research may not necessarily translate to humans, scientists may be able to recreate the results from this research in humans, and if they do, they will be able to use stem cells from infertile men to create fully functional offspring. Then these cultured stem cells when divided outside the body can be combined with an egg to make an embryo.
“If proven to be safe and effective in humans, our platform could potentially generate fully functional sperm for artificial insemination or in vitro fertilisation techniques,” said Sha. “Because currently available treatments do not work for many couples, we hope that our approach could substantially improve success rates for male infertility.”
This could be a game changer for men struggling to have children.
h/t IB Times