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Thursday, 1 May 2014

Human skin used to create sperm... -

Human skin used to create sperm... - 

Human skin from infertile men has been used to create sperm for the first time, in a scientific development which could offer hope to those who cannot have children.
British experts said the findings were "exciting" - raising the prospect that infertile men could become fathers after their sperm is grown in the lab.
They said the US research challenged a widely-held view that the "door is closed" on men who are genetically infertile.
Skin samples from three men were genetically engineered, turning back the developmental clock, so that they assumed the properties of embryonic stem cells - which can grow into virtually any kind of body tissue.
After being implanted into the testes of mice, the samples generated into early stage sperm cells, in the trials.
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Scientists said that although the “cell precursors” were insufficient to support conception, the breakthrough suggests that in future, the same method could be used to grow productive sperm from infertile men.
Infertility affects at least 10 per cent of couples, and in at least one third of cases, relates to male fertility problems, which are often genetic.
The most common defect is missing regions of male Y chromosomes, which is associated with the production of few or zero sperm.
The trials by Stanford University involved three men suffering from such defects.
When their tissue samples were genetically engineered, and then implanted into the testes of mice, cells were successfully generated.
The findings, published in the journal Cell Reports, indicate that Y chromosome infertility occurs relatively late in the maturing process of sperm cells,
Lead researcher Dr Reijo Pera, from the Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine said: “Our results are the first to offer an experimental model to study sperm development. It might even be possible to transplant stem-cell-derived germ cells directly into the testes of men with problems producing sperm.”
Dr Allan Pacey, senior lecturer in reproduction and developmental medicine at the University of Sheffield, said: "The received wisdom is that if you have a Y chromosome defect like this you don't make sperm.
"Until I read this paper I would have said if you take skin cells from an infertile guy it won't work. But what this seems to suggest is that it could.
"Obviously the outcome is poorer than if you don't have the defect, but the fact that they could do this at all is quite exciting. At the moment the door is closed to these men."
However, Dr Pacey warned that any sons born via the process would inherit the increased risk of infertility.
In 2012, US scientists from the University of Pittsburgh found that it was possible to generate sperm cell precursors from skin tissue from fertile men.
However, the trials are the first time such methods have succeeded on men with fertility problems.
Researchers suggested the findings could bring hope to men who suffer from genetic infertility problems and from those who become infertile after treatment for diseases such as cancer.
Dr Reijo said: “Our studies suggest that the use of stem cells can serve as a starting material for diagnosing germ cell defects and potentially generating germ cells.
“This approach has great potential for treatment of individuals who have genetic/idiopathic (unknown) causes for sperm loss or for cancer survivors who have lost sperm production due to gonadotoxic treatments.”
Researchers suggested the study’s insights into the way male infertility works - with genetic problems related to the Y chromosome occurring relatively late in the production of sperm cells - could assist further research into treatments.


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