New Stem Cell Research: Men & Women not needed for first step in Making babies
By Ian Sample | guardian.co.uk
'Hidden stage of human development' is opened up by Stanford University scientists
Scientists have turned human stem cells into early-stage sperm and eggs in research that promises to give doctors an unprecedented insight into the causes of infertility.
The work will allow researchers to study human reproductive cells from the moment they are created in embryos through to fully-mature sperm and eggs.
Understanding the details of how sperm and egg cells grow will help scientists develop treatments for people who are left infertile when the process goes wrong. The research may also lead to treatments that can correct growth defects before a child is born.
Genetic glitches that happen early on in the growth of sperm and eggs are a major cause of infertility in men and women. The process has been practically impossible to study until now though, because the sex cells form early on, before an embryo is two weeks old.
"This achievement opens a new window into what was only recently a hidden stage of human development," said Susan Shurin at the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, which part funded the research.
A team led by Renee Reijo Pera at Stanford University in California developed a technique that turned human embryonic stem cells green when they started growing into sperm and eggs. After isolating the reproductive cells, the scientists worked out which genes made them grow properly by switching different genes on and off.
Writing in the journal Nature, the scientists describe how that one gene, called DAZL, is involved in the formation of sex cells from the start. Two related genes are switched on later to steer the cells to full maturity.
The main significance of the work is not to attempt to generate gametes for couples who do not produce them naturally. Rather, the work describes a system in which various aspects of germ cell development can be studied in a dish. In the current study, they have gained insight into the function of three genes in which they specialise."
Darren Griffin, a geneticist at the University of Kent, said the work was important because it gave researchers a way to study human sperm and egg development in a dish, instead of having to rely on tissues taken from animals or "removing bits of people's gonads".
"In future, a range of genetic and environmental factors could be studied, including the effects of pollutants on our fertility. Only through understanding such factors at a basic scientific level can we hope to develop novel diagnoses and therapies. The potential is enormous," he said.
Allan Pacey, an andrologist at Sheffield University, said: "Ultimately this may help us find a cure for male infertility. Not necessarily by making sperm in the laboratory – I personally think that it unlikely – but by identifying new targets for drugs or genes that may stimulate sperm production to occur naturally. This is a long way off, but it is a laudable dream.
Why boys are turning into girls
The Disappearing Male (Video)
Why boys are turning into girls
Rich 'may evolve into separate species'
The Disappearing Male (Video)
Why Embryonic Stem Cell Research? It's About Human Engineering, Not Ending Disease
Human Cells + Animal Cells = ?
Obama to Lift Ban on Funding for Embryonic Stem Cell Research
U.S. company claims it cloned humans
Eugenics - Human Sperm Created in British Lab (Video)
Now scientists create a sheep that's 15% human
British scientists to create synthetic blood
Hybrid embryos could be created within months
'Darth Venter' (J. Craig Venter) & The Archon Genomics X Prize
Patent sought on 'synthetic life'
I’ve found God, says man who cracked the genome
Artificial life likely in 3 to 10 years
Dolly the Sheep Creator Knighted
Green light for hybrid research
Transgressive technologies: Does a posthuman dystopia await us?
Legal loophole in embryology bill could pave the way for human-ape hybrids
Chimera embryos have right to life, say bishops
Latest News from our Front Page
Why a Caucasian-Japanese is not Percieved as Japanese
The Japan Times has a hilarious article about a White guy who is angry and upset at the horrible and racist world we live in because customs agents and border agents are questioning his "right to be Japanese."
It's seems that Debito Arodou's experience at border crossings suggest that no one takes a White guy seriously, for claiming to be Japanese.
"Open the border - we're going to the UK!" Chanting mob of 200 storm Eurotunnel
Migrants make their way towards the Tunnel entrance in the early hours of Sunday morning
An organised mob of 200 migrants charged into the Calais entrance of the Channel Tunnel early yesterday, chanting â€˜open the bordersâ€™ and demanding to be allowed into Britain.
They tore down fences and charged past police, who retaliated by spraying tear gas. When the migrants were finally ...
Forgotten British Heroes Campaign
The text of the letter from the Forgotten British Heroes Campaign to the Israel ambassador in London, Daniel Taub.
This will be delivered to the Israel Embassy on Saturday 1st August, the day on which the Campaign will hold a wreath-laying and then a meeting at the site of a notorious Zionist terrorist bombing near to Trafalgar Square (the former British ...
Baltimore Murders Tie Records After Freddie Gray Killing, 45 Killed In July To Make It The Deadliest Month In At Least 45 Years
The number of people murdered in Baltimore hit a record-tying 45 homicides for the month of July, the Baltimore Sun is reporting. The number is an uptick that follows a trend of increased violence in the city in the months after the Baltimore riots that resulted from the death of unarmed black man Freddie Gray on April 12.
The increased violence in Baltimore, which was already one ...
Executive arrested over disappearance of $390 million in Bitcoins
Mark Karpeles, head of collapsed MTGox Bitcoin exchange held by Japanese police
Japanese police on Saturday arrested Mark Karpeles, head of the collapsed MtGox Bitcoin exchange, over the disappearance of about $390 (£250 million) worth of the virtual currency, local media said.
France-born Karpeles, 30, is suspected of having accessed the exchange's computer system and falsifying data on its outstanding balance, ...
|More News » |