Stem Cell Research for Male Infertility TreatmentMiami, FL
Stem cell research is growing exponentially because of the potential that stem cells hold. Stem cells have two characteristics that distinguish them from other cells and give them the potential to treat many health issues.
Stem Cell Research for Male Infertility Treatment
Stem cells are unspecialized cells so they can renew on their own through cell division. And they can repair many tissues due to their regenerative property, which allows them to replenish other cells without limit. Also, they can be manipulated to become specialized cells like brain cells or red blood cells or tissues.
Research into these potent abilities of stem cells has led to new medical knowledge that can be used to treat diseases like heart disease, diabetes and infertility. The two main types of stem cells that have been used for research are from animals and humans, and they are typically embryonic stem cells and adult stem cells. Studies on using stem cells to treat infertility in men are based on stimulating the cells to produce sperm that can be used in reproduction treatments for infertility.
Infertility is the inability to conceive after more than a year of unprotected sex using no birth control. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), almost 9 percent of men suffer from infertility. The causes of infertility vary widely, but the most common culprits are hormonal disorders, genetic disorders and a disruption of testicular or ejaculatory function.
Linking Stem Cell Research To Male Infertility
While stem cell research pertaining to correcting male infertility is still a work-in-progress, it has been proven to be effective in animals like goats and rats through the use of pluripotent stem cells and cryopreserved germ line stem cells. Other research is also looking at using stem cells from bone marrow.
What this means is that scientists are looking to create sperm from stem cells. A single sperm is a cell; therefore, by manipulating stem cells into taking the form of sperm, it is potentially possible to create a fully functional gamete that can be used for conception.
According to Cell Stem Cell, a journal dedicated to stem cell research, some scientists in China have been able to create functioning sperm that can someday be used in fertility treatment. Breakthroughs like these bring hope to men with fertility problems and, in the not-so-distant future, positive results are likely.
The Chinese research team from Nanjing Medical University underwent chemical processes that involved extracting embryonic stem cells from mice and carefully turning them into primordial germ cells that resembled sperm cells. They did this successfully, and their functional cells were even injected into egg cells and can produce mouse offspring that is fertile.
While there is much excitement about the potential of stem cell research for addressing male infertility, plenty of research needs to be conducted before anything can be tried on humans.
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