'Designer sperm' inserts custom genes into offspring

Dec 02, 2013

Get ready: The "new genetics" promises to change faulty genes of future generations by introducing new, functioning genes using "designer sperm." A new research report appearing online in The FASEB Journal, shows that introducing new genetic material via a viral vector into the sperm of mice leads to the presence and activity of those genes in the resulting embryos. This new genetic material is actually inherited, present and functioning through three generations of the mice tested. This discovery—if successful in humans—could lead to a new frontier in genetic medicine in which diseases and disorders are effectively cured, and new human attributes, such as organ regeneration, may be possible.

"Transgenic technology is a most important tool for researching all kinds of disease in humans and animals, and for understanding crucial problems in biology," said Anil Chandrashekran, Ph.D., study author from the Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences at The Royal Veterinary College in North Mimms, United Kingdom.

To achieve these results, Chandrashekran and colleagues used lentiviruses to generate transgenic animals via the male germ line. When pseudotyped lentiviral vectors encoding (GFP) were incubated with mouse spermatozoa, these sperm were highly successful in producing transgenics. Lentivirally-transduced mouse spermatozoa were used in in vitro fertilization studies and when followed by embryo transfer, at least 42 percent of founders were transgenic for GFP. GFP expression was detected in a wide range of murine tissues, including testis and the transgene was stably transmitted to a third generation of transgenic animals.

"Using modified sperm to insert has the potential to be a major breakthrough not only in future research, but also in human medicine," said Gerald Weissmann, M.D., Editor-in-Chief of The FASEB Journal. "It facilitates the development of transgenic animal models, and may lead to therapeutic benefits for people as well. For years we have chased effective gene therapies and have hit numerous speed bumps and dead ends. If we are able to able to alter to improve the health of , it would completely change our notions of 'preventative medicine.'"

Explore further: Two Y genes can replace the entire Y chromosome for assisted reproduction in mice

More information: Hypothesis: Anil Chandrashekran, Rupa Sarkar, Adrian Thrasher, Scott E. Fraser, Nicholas Dibb, Colin Casimir, Robert Winston, and Carol Readhead. Efficient generation of transgenic mice by lentivirus-mediated modification of spermatozoa. FASEB J fj.13-233999; published ahead of print December 2, 2013, DOI: 10.1096/fj.13-233999

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Japan scientists launch freeze-dry animal sperm bank

Aug 28, 2013

Japanese scientists have launched a sperm bank for endangered animals that uses freeze-drying technology they hope could one day help humans recreate animal populations on other planets, the chief researcher ...

Recommended for you

Studies steadily advance cellulosic ethanol prospects

10 hours ago

At the Agricultural Research Service's Bioenergy Research Unit in Peoria, Illinois, field work and bench investigations keep ARS scientists on the scientific front lines of converting biomass into cellulosic ...

User comments : 3

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Kev_C
1 / 5 (1) Dec 02, 2013
Gattacca here we come. This won't be to remove harmful traits or genetic flaws. It will be used for more sinister applications. Engineered troops to fight a perpetual war at a quite profitable rate.
Bring on the Christians and feed them to the genetically created monster troops with no pain sensors and massively exaggerated muscle power. Last one standing wins and you can even bet on the outcome. Oh the future is bright....the future is genetically modified.
Sorry but I just cannot believe people with any common sense would even engage in this form of manipulation of evolution.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (2) Dec 02, 2013
I guarantee this will be covered by obamacare.
nowhere
5 / 5 (1) Dec 03, 2013
Sorry but I just cannot believe people with any common sense would even engage in this form of manipulation of evolution.

What about the potential benefits?
new frontier in genetic medicine in which diseases and disorders are effectively cured