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Designer Sperm May Eradicate Genetic Disease, Mouse Study

Update Date: Dec 03, 2013 10:59 AM EST

Designer sperm may eradicate genetic diseases and disorders. New research on mice reveals that replacing faulty genes with new genetic material into sperm leads to the presence and activity of new genes in resulting embryos.

The findings revealed that this new genetic material is then inherited, present and functioning through three generations of the mice tested.

Scientists said that the latest discovery could lead to a new frontier in genetic medicine. If replicated in humans, the findings can be used to eliminate genetic diseases and disorders and regenerate failing organs.

"Transgenic technology is a most important tool for researching all kinds of disease in humans and animals, and for understanding crucial problems in biology," Anil Chandrashekran, Ph.D., study author from the Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences at The Royal Veterinary College in North Mimms, United Kingdom, said in a news release.

Researchers used lentiviruses to generate transgenic animals via the male sex cells. The findings revealed that sperm cells incubated with pseudotyped lentiviral vectors encoding green fluorescent protein (GFP) were highly successful in producing transgeneics.

The study revealed that at least 42 percent of founders were transgenic for green fluorescent protein in in vitro fertilizations studies using lentivirally-transduced mouse spermatozoa. Furthermore, for green fluorescent protein expression was detected in a wide range of murine tissues, including testis and the transgene was stably transmitted to a third generation of transgenic animals.

"Using modified sperm to insert genetic material has the potential to be a major breakthrough not only in future research, but also in human medicine," Gerald Weissmann, M.D., Editor-in-Chief of The FASEB Journal, said in a news release. "It facilitates the development of transgenic animal models, and may lead to therapeutic benefits for people as well. For years we have chased effective gene therapies and have hit numerous speed bumps and dead ends. If we are able to able to alter sperm to improve the health of future generations, it would completely change our notions of 'preventative medicine.'"

The findings were published in The FASEB Journal

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