Stem cells used to create sperm in infertile mice

Using stem-cell techniques, scientists in Japan report that they are the first to engineer sperm in infertile male mice that successfully fertilized eggs and produced offspring.

Welcome to mating 2.0: the sexual act itself might not change, but when the parts don't work, we'll simply build new ones.

Cell

So say scientists in Japan who, using stem-cell techniques, are the first to engineer sperm in infertile male mice that successfully fertilized eggs and produced offspring.

The team, led by Mitinori Saitou at Kyoto University, report in the journal Cell that it used stem cells to create primordial germ cells, the precursor to sperm cells, and injected those germ cells into the testicles of infertile mice. The cells eventually produced normal-looking sperm, which went on to fertilize eggs and produce healthy--and perhaps most notably, fertile--offspring.

Scientists have already tried to create sperm using stem cells in previous in vitro studies and, as with this study, used both mice and human stem cells. But until now they hadn't had success.

Whether this recent achievement will eventually translate into human fertility advances remains to be seen, but the team plans to study these and future generations of mice closely, and its findings will likely prompt more research into the biological nature of primordial germ cells.

Not a combination of words I'd recommend in a pick-up line.

About the author

Elizabeth Armstrong Moore is based in Portland, Oregon, and has written for Wired, The Christian Science Monitor, and public radio. Her semi-obscure hobbies include climbing, billiards, board games that take up a lot of space, and piano.

 

Join the discussion

Conversation powered by Livefyre

Don't Miss
Hot Products
Trending on CNET

Last-minute gift ideas

Under pressure? These will deliver on time

With plenty of top-notch retailers offering digital gifts, you still have time to salvage your gift-giving reputation.