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Biotech Medicine Science

Human Sperm Produced In the Laboratory 368

Posted by timothy
from the that's-not-starting-from-scratch dept.
duh P3rf3ss3r writes "The BBC is carrying a report from a team of researchers at Newcastle University who claim to have developed a the first 'artificial' human sperm from stem cells. The research, reported in the journal Stem Cells and Development, involved selecting meristematic germ cells from a human embryonic stem cell culture and inducing meiosis, thus producing a haploid gamete. The authors claim that the resulting sperm are fully formed, mature, human sperm cells but the announcement has been greeted with mixed reaction from colleagues who claim the procedure is ethically questionable and that the gametes produced are of inferior levels of maturation."
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Human Sperm Produced In the Laboratory

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  • Mandatory... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 08, 2009 @01:25PM (#28625995)

    I for one, welcome our female overlords. I hope they find me useful and will not use me for food.

  • by alexborges (313924) on Wednesday July 08, 2009 @01:31PM (#28626095)

    If it has the DNA, its human.

    Thats the ONLY THING that ENCODES humanity....

    Food for thought, thats all Im saying.

  • Re:Well... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 08, 2009 @01:32PM (#28626105)

    Spend some time around some militant feminists. Yes, yes you do.

  • Re:Sperm Shortage? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by f8l_0e (775982) on Wednesday July 08, 2009 @01:35PM (#28626175)
    Consider a man a wife. The husband is infertile for reasons other than motility. They could now have a child with sperm produced from his stem cells.
  • One implication (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Arthur B. (806360) on Wednesday July 08, 2009 @02:05PM (#28626707)

    Interestingly, this opens the door to biological children from homosexuals couple. Sure it's been foreseen for a long time, still big big can of worm.

  • Re:Er.... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Altus (1034) on Wednesday July 08, 2009 @02:17PM (#28626891) Homepage

    Of course regular parents take this chance every time the conceive a child.

    I'm not sure I see the ethical dilemma in using this technology to allow a couple with fertility problems to reproduce. Sure, in this case you don't know what the odds are, and its possible something will go wrong that couldn't go wrong normally. But everyone who has a child takes the chance that the child might be deformed or sick or die shortly after birth. Its part of the human condition.

  • Re:So what? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cashman73 (855518) on Wednesday July 08, 2009 @02:55PM (#28627463) Journal
    Or, 3. if they took stem cells from a lesbian, they could generate some sperm for her, thereby along her to impregnate her other female partner. Next, all they need to do is to generate an egg cell from a homosexual male stem cell. Then, once same-sex couples can successfully reproduce, the religious right is going to go apeshit and all hell is going to break loose! ;-)
  • Re:One implication (Score:4, Insightful)

    by thesandtiger (819476) on Wednesday July 08, 2009 @03:27PM (#28627855)

    How is it any more a "big can of worm" than infertile hetero couples having children? Are you suggesting that there is some kind of ethical or moral problem with homosexuals having children with this tech that would not apply to heterosexual couples?

  • Re:Damn! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Gravedigger3 (888675) on Wednesday July 08, 2009 @04:03PM (#28628311)

    He'll take a house, car, and alimony from a third party (male) because god forbid a woman comes out of a divorce proceeding without being set for life.

  • Re:So what? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Thiez (1281866) on Wednesday July 08, 2009 @04:24PM (#28628571)

    You wouldn't want to do that though, since this would basically be incest++. If we ever get the tech to make impregnating yourself with yourself possible, it'll probably get banned because it'd lead to a higher chance of birth defects.

  • Re:One implication (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Palshife (60519) on Wednesday July 08, 2009 @05:04PM (#28629071) Homepage

    Besides the obvious? Homosexual couples can't currently conceive children. This could grant that ability. That's pretty huge.

  • Re:So what? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Wednesday July 08, 2009 @07:41PM (#28630667) Journal
    Why would you pay to manufacture slave babies when you could just let the poor do it for you? They've been doing a fine job, even against their own economic interests, for centuries now.
  • Re:Moral issues? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Hurricane78 (562437) <deleted@slashd o t .org> on Wednesday July 08, 2009 @07:41PM (#28630671)

    Well, actually "natural" means "millions if not billions of years of testing in the field, resulting in an unbeatable guaranteed fitness". Of course you could have luck and come up with something better. But it is highly unlikely. And you most likely would forget all kinds of little cycles in nature that are needed to keep things working in the long term.

    Wait for the second, third or fourth generation showing all kinds of problems, up to being unable to create the next generation at all.

    It's way more complicated than you can imagine. We got the tools, but we do not have the brains to use them properly. That is my standpoint. :)

  • Re:So what? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by interkin3tic (1469267) on Thursday July 09, 2009 @11:57AM (#28638523)

    So you could take a stem cell from a man and generate an ovum, and take a stem cell from a woman and generate a sperm, and then put them together and conceive a child.

    As far as I know, we haven't made eggs from stem cells. Did a google search for "eggs from stem cells" but everything that came up was talking about the reverse (paying women to donate eggs to harvest ESC from) and didn't want to sort through those. It might be more difficult to make eggs from male stem cells, in fact we might find it's much more difficult to make eggs from any pluripotent stem cells, even if you do have 2 X chromosomes. And actually, I haven't been able to access the real article in stem cell and development, and no one seems to be sure if the sperm are from XY stem cells or not, or if they can functionally fertilize an egg or not. They may have gotten cells that look like sperm from male ESC that aren't actually fully functional.

    So we're probably a few years away from a female father and a male mother scenario.

    But would some of the eggs have a Y chromosome, and all of the sperm have X chromosomes? And would that work (i.e. where the fertilised egg was XY)?

    Assuming they do figure out how to get opposite gametes, sperm from XX and eggs from XY, then yeah, that could happen. If you are doing fully reversed gametes, that might work out as normal.

    What might become an issue is if, say, two gay men wanted to have a child that was basically their offspring. If we figure out how to make an egg from male cells, seems like half the eggs would have a Y chromesome. If you're fertilizing them with normal male sperm, half of them are also going to have a Y chromesome. Half the resulting offspring would have XY and be male, a quarter would have XX and be female, but there would be a quarter that had no X chromosome, and would be YY. They wouldn't survive, but I'm not sure how far they would develop. If they started to, and in an IVF setting a (female) surrogate were carrying normal embryos and one YY, would the YY implant but then later spontaneously abort, and would that event cause the other, viable embryos to also be lost?

"Never ascribe to malice that which is caused by greed and ignorance." -- Cal Keegan

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