Stem Cell Research May Someday Treat InfertilityMiami, FL
Stem cell research has recently had some very promising breakthroughs. The cells of genetically infertile male mice have successfully been converted into sperm and used to create healthy pups. Researchers around the world hope to use a similar technique someday to help men who are struggling with infertility.
Understanding Stem Cell Research
While this procedure remains in the experimental stage, researchers are very optimistic that it someday will be used to produce healthy humans. That raises some rather interesting legal and ethical questions.
One common reason for infertility in men and mice is the occurrence of an extra sex chromosome. One in every 500 males has an extra Y or X chromosome in their genomes.
Researchers have spent lots of effort trying to remove this extra chromosome from infertile mice. Stem cells were taken from other parts of mice like the ears and cultured in a lab to create fibroblast cells. These cells were then inserted into stem cells, removing the extra chromosome from some.
These cells were later transplanted into the testicles of mice and eventually matured into sperm. This allowed these previously infertile mice to reproduce and create healthy offspring.
The research has the potential to be a life changer for millions of couples who are dealing with infertility. Some experiments have already been conducted on humans and researchers can remove the extra chromosome with this technique.
The biggest barrier this procedure will likely face is the ethical questions it forces people to address. Countries like the U.S. have existing regulations that prevent the use of sperms cells generated from stem cell research. Breaking down these barriers will likely be a tedious task.
There is also the question of potential side effects for utilizing such sperm. Some mice tested developed teratomas after the stem cells were transplanted into them.
Some stem cell research specialists believe cells taken from the patient's bone marrow works better for addressing infertility. This is according to the American Journal of Pathology.
For couples who have a difficult time having children, the male is just as likely to cause infertility. Male infertility result from cells failing to form sperm properly or an issue with the cells or glands that support the production of sperm. For addressing male infertility with stem cell research, the focus is always the replacement of these defective cells with new stem cells that do not have the defects.
Stem cells derived from bone marrow have been taken from mice and injected into the testes. These cells contain green fluorescent protein, so they are easy to differentiate from other cells in the area. These cells are then injected into the testes for observation.
There is a high rate of acceptance by the host's body and most managed to survive during the 12-month duration of the study. These cells showed a tendency to take the form of the cells in the surrounding area.
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