Feeds

German boffins make sperm cells from bone marrow

What future for boners?

Application security programs and practises

Scientists in Germany have managed to coax stem cells drawn from bone marrow to grow into immature sperm cells. The team says if these so-called spermatagonial cells can be matured, the work would have massive implications for fertility treatments.

The research team isolated mesenchymal stem cells from samples of bone marrow donated by male volunteers. This is a type of cell which has previously been induced to grow into other body tissue, such as muscle.

Next, these mesenchynmal cells were cultured in the lab and grown into male reproductive cells, called "germ cells". Genetic markers revealed the presence of spermatagonial stem cells, an early phase of the male germ cell development.

Spermatagonial cells are found in the human testes, and in most men these would develop into mature, functional sperm cells. This is the first time this kind of cell has been artificially produced.

But important as the breakthrough is, researchers are cautioning against wild street parties and other unrestrained celebration.

For one thing, proposed legislation in the UK would ban using artificially created cells in fertility treatments. And for another, the work is still at a very early stage.

Even the research team leader, Professor Karim Nayernia, formerly of the University of Göttingen but now of the North-east England Stem Cell Institute (NESCI), counsels caution.

He said that before he could say that the work has potential applications in terms of fertility treatments in humans, there would need to be a significant investment of research time, within an appropriate social and ethical framework.

Professor Nayernia said: "We're very excited about this discovery, particularly as our earlier work in mice suggests that we could develop this work even further.

"Our next goal is to see if we can get the spermatagonial stem cells to progress to mature sperm in the laboratory and this should take around three to five years of experiments."

The work, a joint project between the Medical School of Hannover and the University of Göttingen, is published in the April 13 2007 issue of the journal Reproduction: Gamete Biology. ®

Build a business case: developing custom apps

More from The Register

next story
Asteroid's DINO KILLING SPREE just bad luck – boffins
Sauricide WASN'T inevitable, reckon scientists
BEST BATTERY EVER: All lithium, all the time, plus a dash of carbon nano-stuff
We have found the Holy Grail (of batteries) - boffins
The Sun took a day off last week and made NO sunspots
Someone needs to get that lazy star cooking again before things get cold around here
Boffins discuss AI space program at hush-hush IARPA confab
IBM, MIT, plenty of others invited to fill Uncle Sam's spy toolchest, but where's Google?
Famous 'Dish' radio telescope to be emptied in budget crisis: CSIRO
Radio astronomy suffering to protect Square Kilometre Array
Bad back? Show some spine and stop popping paracetamol
Study finds common pain-killer doesn't reduce pain or shorten recovery
Forty-five years ago: FOOTPRINTS FOUND ON MOON
NASA won't be back any time soon, sadly
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable
Learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.