Sperm Stem Cells Grown in Lab

November 4, 2004 -- Researchers have succeeded in growing sperm stem cells in laboratory cultures. These cells were then transferred to infertile mice who produced sperm and fathered baby mice. Each baby mouse was genetically related to the sperm stem cell donor, not to the mouse producing the sperm.

Perspectives

Actually, this research team has been working on similar technology for over ten years. What is new is that specific genes can be inserted into the sperm stem cells which can then be grown in culture to provide an endless supply of these cells.

The researchers point out that their technology developed in mice could also be used to treat infertility in humans. Sperm stem cells could be removed from a donor, cultured to increase their numbers, frozen, and then reimplanted back into the donor (or another male) at a future date.

The researchers also propose that these sperm stem cells have the "potential" of serving as a source for more versatile adult stem cells to replace diseased or injured tissue. Because of the current controversy swirling around the development of stem cell lines, this application requires a much bigger leap of faith.

Barbara K. Hecht, Ph.D.
Frederick Hecht, M.D.
Medical Editors, MedicineNet.com