What could be termed as a ray of hope for infertile men, scientists has found a way to develop primitive human sperm from skin cells.
Lead researcher Renee Reijo Pera of Montana State University, said, “I probably get 200 emails a year from people who are infertile, and very often the heading on the emails is: Can you help me?.”
For the study, the researchers collected skin cells from infertile men and manipulated them in the lab to become induced pluripotent stem cells. These cells were very similar to human embryonic stem cells. It connotes that they have the ability to become virtually any cell in the body.
These cells were inserted into the testes of mice where they became very immature human sperm cells, the researchers report.
“It’s much easier than we actually expected,” Pera said.
Researchers, however, highlighted that the study is in initial stage and need an in-depth analysis.
“It’s one step closer to being able to make sperm in a petri dish. So I think that’s very provocative,” says George Daley, a stem-cell researcher at Harvard.
The researchers also fear that the technique could be misused as someone could steal other people’s cells to make their sperm without their permission.
“So it is not impossible in the future that a movie star may find some of his hair follicles purloined and then on the market as donor sperm. You can imagine some clandestine sperm bank saying, ‘We’re selling George Clooney’s sperm, ” Green says.
The study was published in the journal Cell Reports.