A team of Chinese scientists managed to turn embryonic stem cells into sperm cell in the laboratory enabling the them to grow viable specimens using sample from mice.
The uneasy task was done by fertilizing eggs with their dish-grown sperm cells, which actually turned into baby mice. The most interesting thing was the mice had their own babies too. At least one previous study produced offspring but the resulting mice had developmental issues which disabled them from having their own offsprings
Embryonic stem cells can be differentiated into any type of cell and are widely used in medical research. In order to coax then to transfer into sperm cells, the team had to create environment that mimicked the inside of the mouse testes.
Then they mixed the stem cell with chemicals, testicular cells and hormones that gave rise to what they called “Spermatid-like cells”
While they gave the same genetic materials as real sperm, spermatid-like cells don’t usually have tails. That’s why they were manually injected into eggs that were implanted into surrogate mothers.
The researchers (Who comes from the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing and Nanjing medical university in China) are hoping that their study can help stop infertility in men.
They plan to perform further tests and replicate their results using other animals, including non-human primates, in the coming years to achieve that goal. If you’d like to read about the study’s technical details, check out the group’s paper published on Cell Stem Cell.
Source: Cell Stem Cell, Engadget