Stem cells prodded toward turning into sperm
Scientists have turned two types of stem cells into precursor sperm cells—and say one day it could be possible to restore sterile men’s fertility with just skin samples.
Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine report their findings today in the online version of Cell Reports.
Infertility can be a side effect of some cancer treatments because the drugs work by destroying rapidly-dividing cells, which includes sperm precursor cells, explains the study’s lead author Charles Easley, formerly a post-doctoral fellow in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Sciences, and now a faculty member at Emory University.
“Sperm can be banked for future artificial insemination procedures, but that does not help some patients, such as pre-pubertal boys,” Easley says. “There are procedures to store testicular tissue prior to cancer therapy, but men who didn’t have the opportunity to save tissue are permanently sterile, and so far there are no cures for their sterility.”
There is growing research evidence that adult somatic cells, such as those of the skin, can be induced or biologically prodded to return to a more primitive state and then redirected to become different cell types. Read More