Scientists Made Sperm Cells From Stem Cells, Producing Offspring
In a breakthrough by scientists at Nanjing Medical University, genetic engineering of functioning mice sperm cells from stem cells and their injection into egg cells resulted in fertile offspring, reports the International Business Times.
Hence, the study is the first step to help males produce sperm cells in vitro. However, the success needs to repeat with the use of human cells.
By creating sperm in the testes, they can follow among the "longest and most complex bodily process" that could take over a month to finish. That makes the act very impressive.
"I expect many think it is easy to make sperm, most men just sit there and make millions of the little blighters every hour," said Robin Lovell-Badge of the United Kingdom's Francis Crick Institute. "However, as this paper clearly shows, it is much more complex than this."
The sperm cells of young mice between two and eight years old were used, and DNA was extracted from them and then recombined so that primordial germ cells could be derived from stem cells.
Hence, they were able to become any kind of cell in spite of their sex cell origins.
The team could use the DNA recombination to push stem cells and make them redevelop as sperm cells so that they could conduct meiosis. The cells then went through in vitro fertilization, leading to the creation of fertile mouse offspring.
"Reproducing germ cell development in vitro has remained a central goal in both reproductive biology and reproductive medicine," said Jiahao Sha, co-author of the study. "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."
However, much more research on the subject is required.
The findings were published in the Feb. 25, 2016, issue of Cell Press.