In another stem cell wonder, scientists have created a full functional sperm in a laboratory.
Sperms are formed by spermatogenesis. The male gametes are reproduced by meiosis which produces sexual gametes that contain only half of the chromosomes contained in the original cell. This happens so that when a sperm fertilizes an egg, they would both form a Zygote with the complete amount of chromosomes — gene-carrying bodies.
The complicated nature of Meiosis makes it difficult for scientists to replicate it outside of the human body. In order to attain the standard, every stage of meiosis must be replicated, including the division and rejoining of chromosomes. Also the in vitro gametes must be potent enough to reproduce. Some have been able to do it partially, however still unable to meet the standard criteria for the creation of gametes outside the human body.
The research which was produced in the journal Cell Stem Cell explained how the Chinese scientists were able to carry out the test.
They replicated the environment for making sperms in the human body — or as in this case the body of a mouse. They were able to convert cells called primordial germ cells into immature sperm cells.
The sperm cells when injected into unfertilized egg cells developed into healthy offspring which were capable of having natural conception.
This experiment is a breakthrough for infertility treatment research. If the same research can be carried out successfully, infertile couples (who are unable to produce viable sex cells) could be happy again.
“If proven to be safe and effective in humans, our platform could generate fully functional sperm for artificial insemination or IVF techniques,” said professor Jiahao Sha of Nanjing Medical University in China, where the research was carried out.
“Because currently available treatments do not work for many couples, we hope that our approach could substantially improve success rates for male infertility,” he said.