Thursday, December 2

Scientists create sperm in the laboratory using monkey stem cells

Scientists create sperm in the laboratory using monkey stem cells

A new study developed at the University of Georgia has shown for the first time that functional sperm can be produced in the laboratory, using primate embryonic stem cells. The advance has a potential application in humans, and could become the hub of new therapies and treatments against male infertility in the near future.

In the framework of a scenario characterized by the increase in the rates of infertility in men Across the globe, new research recently published in the journal Fertility and Sterility Science opens up hope for developing innovative strategies in this field: in principle, it is a major breakthrough as it materializes in primates, the species evolutionarily closest to the human being.

A transcendent step

Until now, scientists had managed to generate cells similar to the sperm using mouse stem cells, but sperm production in rodents is clearly different from that seen in humans. Consequently, it could not be determined that this technology was effective in humans.

Now, the results achieved in the rhesus monkeys make it clear that the technique is viable in primates, being the step prior to its use in humans. According to a Press release, Rhesus macaques share similar reproductive mechanisms to humans, therefore they become a perfect model to explore therapies based on mother cells, destined finally to treat the male infertility in humans.

Related Topic: Marijuana can cause infertility in men and accelerate sperm.

A long and complex process

It is worth remembering that embryonic stem cell They can transform into any other type of tissue, but they become immature sperm with the help of a mixture of chemicals, hormones, and testicular tissue. The spermatids They are the first male cells to emerge from the division of secondary spermatocytes.

As a result of this separation, each spermatid will contain only half of the genetic material present in the original primary spermatocyte. Subsequently, the spermatids undergo a maturation process known as spermiogenesis, through which the sperm will be produced.

The sperm production in the testicles it takes more than a month from its beginning to its culmination in most mammals, being one of the longest and most complex bodily processes in this class of animals, among which is the human being. New technologies seem to be getting closer and closer to reproducing it just as efficiently in a laboratory.

Create healthy embryos

Furthermore, as the spermatids created in the new study were shown to be capable of fertilize a Rhesus macaque egg, the next step the researchers have proposed is implant embryos in a specimen of the species. They seek to examine whether these embryos created from spermatids in vitro can produce a healthy baby.

The scientists clarified that in vitro spermatid fertilization it requires the activation of the ovum and the addition of other factors, intended to allow the fertilized ovum to develop into a healthy embryo. If it achieves its objective, perhaps the test and subsequent application of the technique in humans can take place much earlier than expected.


Blastocyst Development after Fertilization with in vitro Spermatids Derived from Non-Human Primate Embryonic Stem Cells. Khampang S, Cho IK, Punyawai K, Gill B, Langmo JN, Nath S, Greeson KW,

Symosko KM, Fowler KL, Tian S, Statz JP, Steves AN, Parnpai R, White MA, Hennebold JD, Orwig KE, Simerly CR, Schatten G and Easley IV CA. Fertility and Sterility Science (2021).DOI:

Photo: a breakthrough in macaque monkeys could lead to better treatments against male infertility in humans. Credit: Karin Henseler on Pixabay.

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