Men who have been rendered infertile after developing testicular cancer as boys may be able to produce sperm using stem cells, says a new study from researchers at the University of Pittsburgh and the Magee-Womens Research Institute.
For the study lead researcher Dr. Kyle Orwig and his team harvested sperm stem cells from twelve adult male monkeys before exposing them to chemotherapy. After the treatment the stem cells were reinserted into the monkeys and nine of the twelve were able to successfully produce sperm once again.
"This study demonstrates that spermatogonial stem cells from higher primates can be frozen and thawed without losing their activity, and that they can be transplanted to produce functional sperm that are able to fertilise eggs and give rise to early embryos." Says Orwig.
He adds, however, that they still have many hurdles before this process could be approved for human use:
"Should we re-introduce the spermatogonial cells as soon as treatment is over, or wait until the patient is considered cured of his disease, or when he is ready to start a family? How do we eliminate the risk of cancer recurrence if we give back untreated cells that might include cancer cells? These are issues we still must work through, but this study does show us the concept is feasible."
The data appears this week in the journal Cell Stem Cell.
by RTT Staff Writer
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