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Japan creates sperm from stem cells

22 September 2003
By BioNews
Appeared in BioNews 226

Researchers in Japan have managed to produce mouse sperm from mouse embryonic stem cells (ES cells), according to a report in this week's advanced online publications of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science. The research may prove valuable in the quest to understand and control male infertility.

In May 2003, the Japanese scientists reported that they were close to achieving this goal. Now, the scientists, based at the Mitsubishi Kagaku Institute of Life Sciences in Japan, say that they have actually produced normal, functioning mouse sperm. The scientists cultivated mouse ES cells with a protein called BMP4 that stimulates sperm cell development in an embryo. The resulting cells were allowed to grow in the laboratory before being transplanted into testicular tissue in host mice. Once in place, the natural body hormones of the mice caused the cells to progress through the final stages of sperm development.

Toshiaki Noce, leader of the research team, said that the sperm produced appears to be 'active' and that it has been used to successfully fertilise mouse eggs. Some cell divisions occurred in the fertilised eggs but, says Noce, further research must be done in order to determine whether they could develop fully-formed mouse fetuses.

Also in May 2003, a group of US-based scientists reported the first successful production of mouse eggs from stem cells in the laboratory. This means that, in theory at least, both eggs and sperm from mice can now be produced from ES cells. This development, speculates the Washington Post, may also apply to humans, as it seems that most things that work in a mouse model also work in humans. However, stem cell research is more advanced in mice, and it is likely that much more work will be required before it can be applied in humans.

Although it remains to be seen whether human egg and sperm cells could be produced from ES cells in this way, it seems that the new discovery may ignite some ethical debate. In theory, because egg cells were developed from both 'male' and 'female' ES cells, two men could have a biologically related child carried by a surrogate mother. But the sperm cells could only be produced from ES cells taken from male embryos, since they require the presence of a Y chromosome to develop, so the same would not apply to a female same-sex couple.

Sperm made from stem cells
The Washington Post |  16 September 2003
Stem cells grown into sperm cells
Las Vegas Sun |  15 September 2003
16 April 2007 - by Katy Sinclair 
Scientists have claimed success in growing immature sperm cells from bone marrow, which they hope to employ in fertility treatments within five years. Professor Karim Nayernia, and his team from the Universities of GÅ¡ttingen and the Medical School of Hanover, took stem cell samples from the bone...
17 July 2006 - by Heidi Nicholl 
Scientists have for the first time managed to create sperm from mouse stem cells capable of fertilising eggs and resulting in live births. A team led by Professor Karim Nayernia, now Professor of Stem Cell Biology at Newcastle University, began with mouse embryonic stem cells (ES cells)which...
14 November 2005 - by BioNews 
Human eggs and sperm derived from embryonic stem (ES) cells could become a reality in the next five to ten years, says Professor Harry Moore, of the UK's Sheffield University. Other scientists think it could be even sooner, according to a report in the Observer newspaper. The issues arising from...
20 June 2005 - by BioNews 
BioNews reporting from ESHRE conference, Copenhagen: Human embryonic stem (ES) cells may be capable of growing into egg and sperm cells in the laboratory, UK scientists say. Behrouz Aflatoonian, part of a team based at the University of Sheffield, told the annual conference of the European Society of Human Reproduction...
8 November 2004 - by BioNews 
US researchers have managed to grow mouse sperm stem cells in the laboratory. They have also transplanted these cells into infertile mice, which have then produced mature sperm and fathered offspring. The scientists, based at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, say their achievement opens up research into...
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