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article imageLabs 'grows' early-stage sperm

By Tim Sandle     May 3, 2014 in Science
Scientists have reprogrammed human skin cells into immature sperm cells. The work is still early-stage, but the researchers are optimistic about its potential in relation to cancer research.
Scientists have produced early-stage sperm cells, called primordial germ-cell-like cells (PGCLCs), from an adult male’s skin cells. For the study, the researchers used used skin cells from three men who had Y chromosome gene defects that prevented them from producing sperm.
The reason for doing so relates to cancer research, according to U.S. News. Although only 1 percent of men have genetic defects that make them unable to produce sperm, the team suggested that engineering similar stem cells from other tissues could one day help cancer survivors who have lost the ability to produce sperm.
Commenting on the research, Allan Pacey from Sheffield University told The Guardian: "You’ll never restore them back to normal, but they might have a few months or years of making sperm that's enough to give them fertility back."
The research was carried out by a team from Stanford University and it has been reported in the journal Cell Reports. The study is titled "Fate of iPSCs Derived from Azoospermic and Fertile Men following Xenotransplantation to Murine Seminiferous Tubules."
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