IPS cells – hopes are raised for masculine infertility

Publié le : 2 May 2014

 Dr. Reijo Pera and his team at the Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine at Standford published an encouraging study in Cell Reports for men with infertility problems. In fact, they used adult skin stem cells derived from IPS cells, which were then developed into sperm cells. This was the first time for this process to be used.       

Scientists harvested skin cells from three men presenting with a genetic anomaly – azoospermia (absence of spermatozoa in the sperm), generated them into IPS cells and then injected them into mice. Some cells developed correctly into sperm cells whilst others caused “small tumours”.   

Dr. Reijo Pera stated that “Our results are the first involving an experimental model focusing on sperm development” and confirmed their therapeutic potential. According to Allan Pacey, Professor at the School of Medicine & Biomedical Sciences at the  University of Sheffield (United States), “it is remarkable to obtain sperm cells at their first stage of development with IPS cells”. He explained that although it was unlikely that the genetic anomaly in this men would be completely resolved, this technique could, on the other hand, allow them to produce a sufficient quantity of sperm within “a few months or years” to restore their fertility.

N.B. In 2009, Professor Nayernia’s team announced the reconstitution of authentic sperm from embryo stem cells. However, several experts expressed their doubts at the time, including Dr. Allan Pacey, who said: “As a biologist and sperm specialist with twenty years’ experience, I am not convinced on the basis of the data presented (…) that the cells produced from embryo stem cells by Professor Nayernia’s team can be correctly termed ‘spermatozoa'” (Cf. Synthèse Gènéthique du 08 juillet 2009).

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