Japanese sperm cell breakthrough offers hope to infertile men

March 24, 2011 by Bob Yirka, Phys.org report

(PhysOrg.com) -- In what can only be described as cosmic forces at work, Japanese scientists working at Yokohama University, just south of Tokyo, have in the midst of a national crises, announced a major breakthrough in fertility science; they have figured out how to grow sperm cells outside the body. While the nation counts its losses from the earthquake and tsunami, a new way to help men who have been unable to conceive children, might just be on the way.

As originally reported in Nature, Takehiko Ogawa and his team from Yokohama University have discovered that by using the right mix of chemicals (which turned out to be the commercially available KnockOut - a solution made to assist in stem cell growth) they could not only keep a mouse testes sample alive, but that it would, after just a few weeks, begin to produce viable sperm cells; sperm cells that when injected into a female ovum, wound up in the delivery by surrogate, of a live healthy mouse.

Scientists have been working on the problem of producing viable sperm cells for over a hundred years, with little to no success. Until now, researchers had been able to keep testes tissue alive, but when the sperm cells reached the meiosis stage, (the point during cell division when are swapped) things simply stopped.

In the new procedure, a testes sample was taken from the testicle of a live male mouse before it was old enough to produce sperm cells. That sample was then continuously soaked in the KnockOut solution for several weeks, and then, the sample began to produce live ; complete with head, body and tails, just as they would have had they been left in their natural state. Those mice that were born as a result so far seem normal, and were even able to reproduce as well. The team also discovered the procedure would work with a previously frozen specimen as well.

The reason this breakthrough is so important is because it might help , particularly those who as young boys lost their ability to reproduce due to cancer treatment, have children. It’s also important because it will help researches better understand how cells work; which might eventually lead to more breakthroughs in other areas.

Explore further: The long road of fertility

More information: In vitro production of functional sperm in cultured neonatal mouse testes, Takuya Sato, Kumiko Katagiri, Ayako Gohbara, Kimiko Inoue, Narumi Ogonuki, Atsuo Ogura, Yoshinobu Kubota & Takehiko Ogawa, Nature 471, 504–507 (24 March 2011) doi:10.1038/nature09850

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1 / 5 (2) Mar 24, 2011
So much for vasectomies being permanent.
3 / 5 (2) Mar 24, 2011
science could solve every problem
3.7 / 5 (3) Mar 24, 2011
science could solve every problem

Yes, I agree. When people say "science can't fix everything", what they should really be saying is "science can't fix everything because we'll screw up before it can". The reason it seems like science fails spectacularly at times is because humans get scared and abandon their efforts or religious nuts cripple the rate of progress because the scientific endeavor is against their beliefs.
1 / 5 (1) Mar 24, 2011
While I can empathise with someone who wants to be a father but can't, another side of my brain says " Oh good! We need science to make it easier to add to the human population!" Where would we be if the population was a mere 2 billion?
3 / 5 (2) Mar 24, 2011
does science define what a problem is ?
3 / 5 (2) Mar 24, 2011
does science define what a problem is ?

and if so, could it define all problems ?
5 / 5 (1) Mar 24, 2011
does science define what a problem is ?

and if so, could it define all problems ?

"Science is a way of thinking much more than it is a body of knowledge."
-Carl Sagan

I say there is no better method to determine problems. Something seems off, you try to hypothesize why, you collect data, you analyze the data and draw a conclusion. Even if you don't have the initial suspicion, plotting data can indicate a trend toward a problem.
2.3 / 5 (3) Mar 25, 2011
Soon males will be obselete.. watch your backs boys.
not rated yet Mar 25, 2011
Soon males will be obselete.. watch your backs boys.

I think sperm is not the only thing which women want from us, I also think that they prefer to make children in classic way than in vitro :)

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