Lab-created mouse sperm spawned nine healthy mice according to recently published research featuring in the Cell Stem Cell journal. A team of Chinese scientists have pulled through with years of research in artificially creating viable sperm. Their results have raised hopes that one day infertility in men could be a treatable medical problem.
The excitement has also been countered by an ounce of skepticism. Scientists not involved in the study believe that before infertility in men can be addressed, a number of other roadblocks should be taken into consideration. For instance, ethical, safety and legal concerns should become part and parcel of future endeavors.
The Chinese scientists did conduct a groundbreaking experiment. Mouse eggs were fertilized using artificially created sperm. The sperm cells used in the experiment were early-stage and developed from stem cells.
Early in the experiment, the research team plucked stem cells from mice and nudged them into developing into early-stage sperm cells. Although the sperm cells never reached full maturity, they grew sufficiently to fertilize mouse eggs. The meiosis process was successful despite the approach having never been used before.
The fertilization process was performed in vitro. As the fertilized embryos were implanted in female mice, these successfully bore more than six rodents. The generation of mice resulted from IVF with artificially created sperm was followed until a second generation of healthy mice was parented by these.
Lab-created mouse sperm spawned nine healthy mice. The sperm cells created using mice stem cells were injected into 379 eggs overall. The fertilized mice embryos are hailed as an advance of genetics and IVF.
However, the results haven’t been replicated until now. Even when they are, it will still take years for them to be applied to humans. After decades of scientific work, human stem cells couldn’t successfully be nudged into viable sperm cells. Jiahao Sha, the director of the Laboratory of Reproductive Medicine with the Nanjing Medical University, China believes the results of the Chinese scientific team is just the impetus that this scientific area needs.
Germ cells used in IVF are particularly sensitive. One mistake can bear drastic effects lasting for generations. One fault in the genetic material will not only manifest in the children born from the IVF treatment, but to their children as well.
As such, applying the results reported in the Cell Stem Cell journal to humans can’t be performed just yet. Despite the fact that the lab-created mouse sperm spawned nine healthy mice, artificially created sperm and germ cells pose too many risks to humans to be currently tested.
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