Human sperm have been created using embryonic stem cells for the first time in a scientific development which will lead researchers to a better understanding of the causes of infertility.
Researchers led by Professor Karim Nayernia at Newcastle University and the NorthEast England Stem Cell Institute (NESCI) have developed a new technique which has made the creation of human sperm possible in the laboratory.
The work is published today (8th July 2009) in the academic journal Stem Cells and Development.
The NorthEast England Stem Cell Institute (NESCI) is a collaboration between Newcastle and Durham Universities, Newcastle NHS Foundation Trust and other partners. …
In the technique developed at Newcastle, stem cells with XY chromosomes (male) were developed into germline stem cells which were then prompted to complete meiosis – cell division with halving of the chromosome set. These were shown to produce fully mature, sperm called scientifically, In Vitro Derived sperm (IVD sperm).
In contrast, stem cells with XX chromosomes (female) were prompted to form early stage sperm, spermatagonia, but did not progress further. This demonstrates to researchers that the genes on a Y chromosome are essential for meiosis and for sperm maturation.
Weird. This means that technically, with a bit of help, an embryo could be a father before it is born.