Sperm Created from Skin Cells

Sperm Created from Skin Cells

Although still unable to impregnate, an important step in solving fertility problems has been accomplished.

SPAIN – Scientists from Valencia managed to create human sperm cells from skin cells that, although still incapable of fertilization, represent an important step in solving fertility problems.

15% of couples in the world face fertility problem with the only option to be either egg or sperm donation.  But “everyone wants to have genetically own children,” Carlos Simón, scientific director of the Valencia Infertility Institute (IVI), told AFP.

 “What happens when a person who wants a child lacks gametes (reproductive cells, oocytes or sperm)? This is the problem we want to address: to create gametes in those who do not own them,” Simón said.

The study, carried out by the Valencia Infertility Institute (IVI) in collaboration with the American University of Stanford, was published Tuesday in the journal Scientific Reports, the prestigious scientific group of Nature.

The researchers were inspired by the cell reprogramming technique conceived by the Japanese Shinya Yamanaka and British John Gurdon, awarded in 2012 the Nobel Prize for medicine, to convert adult cells into stem cells.

In their experiment, they directly reprogram mature skin cells introducing them into a cocktail of genes essential for the creation of gametes.

In one month, the cell begins to be modified until they formed their own profile of a germ cell, the type responsible for the formation of eggs and sperm cell, but still unable to impregnate.

“It’s a sperm but needs a phase of greater maturity to become a competent gamete. It is just the beginning,” said Simón.

 Is still far from achieving what was obtained by some Chinese researchers this year where they bred mice from artificially created sperm and injected into an egg which, in turn, was implanted into a female.

According to Simón, with the human species they will have to make many checks because the outcome is a child being born out of all this.

In addition, they will meet legal limitations in order to continue the development of the technique. They must create artificial embryos, something only allowed in some countries like England, where they plan to continue their research.

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