A technique used in manufacturing mouse sperm from stem cells could be a major step towards getting the treatment for male fertility, scientists say.
A group of Chinese scientists successfully manufactured rudimentary sperm cells using stem cells. Scientists argue that the technique used could be used to help find infertility treatment. As such, the human male skin cells could be turned into sperm that can transfer the DNA to his progeny. Other experts however caution that this technique would have to undergo some series of challenges, tests, and approvals before getting adopted.
Producing sperms from stem cells
The lab work of creating mouse sperm cells from stem cells was reported in the journal Cell Stem Cell by Chinese scientists, who also revealed that the procedure was also under trial in monkeys. According to the report, the researchers started by exposing mouse embryonic stem cells to chemicals. These chemicals kind of pushed the stem cells to become sperms. Embryonic stem cells are capable of developing into any cell type in the developing body.
Sperm precursors have previously been manufactured using this method; however these scientists transferred the generated sperm precursors to the mice testicles for further development. In this technique used by the Chinese researchers, the sperm precursors were placed in a lab dish having testicle cells thus eliminating transplantation procedure.
The technique did not yield fully mature sperm but when the sperm precursors were injected into about 379 eggs, a total of 9 mice offspring were produced.
Statistics indicate that about 15% of married couples are undergoing the problem of trying to have children. About one-third of these cases are attributed to male infertility. There are a number of factors that cause infertility in men. One key explained infertility cause is the inability of the sperm cell to attain full division in the process referred to as meiosis. Meiosis process occurs when the cell undergoes two successful divisions to produce four cells that have half the genetic info from the fusing sperm and egg cells.
Scientists have had problem when it comes to proving if the germs cells have undergone full meiosis. The Chinese scientists have, however, shade some light about this problem by the introduction of some chemicals that helped transform the germ cells into spermatids.
Ethics versus technology
According to Renee Reijo Pera of Montana State University and John Schimenti of Cornell University in Ithaca, New York; the technique could be adapted to help in the treatment of male infertility. Other quarters however argue that the technology might go against the societal ethics and also unsafe. Some researchers argue that the technique might turn out fatal if the DNA of the germ cells doesn’t format correctly.
Time will tell if the technique will be adopted to help with fertility.