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UK researchers create human sperm using embryonic stem cells.

Researchers have created human sperm using embryonic stem cells for the first time, in research aiming to improve the understanding of male infertility and the transmission of genetic disorders. Only XY cells were prompted to complete meiosis and these then developed into fully mature, functional sperm. Some had tail-like structures, similar to the flagellae of human sperm cells. Human sperm production is difficult to study as it takes more than 15 years, but this technique produced sperm in 2-3 months, making it possible to study environmental and genetic factors affecting sperm development, and better understand why infertility happens in men and what causes it. This could help to develop treatment. It will also be possible to study the effect of toxins on cells involved in reproduction--for example, why boys with leukaemia treated with chemotherapy can become infertile for life. The new technique will not be used with the aim of producing a baby, which is currently prohibited by UK legislation.

(1.) Mayor S. Researchers create human sperm using embryonic stem cells. BMJ 2009;339:b2790.

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Title Annotation:ROUND UP: Research
Publication:Reproductive Health Matters
Article Type:Author abstract
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:May 1, 2009
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