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Biotech Medicine Science

Human Sperm Produced In the Laboratory 368

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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  • Well... (Score:3, Informative)

    by mdm-adph ( 1030332 ) on Wednesday July 08, 2009 @02:24PM (#28625953)

    There goes the male sex...? :P

  • Where's the story? (Score:4, Informative)

    by bugg ( 65930 ) * on Wednesday July 08, 2009 @02:24PM (#28625969) Homepage
    Where's the BBC story that's mentioned? I think the editors left a link out.
  • RTFM (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 08, 2009 @02:35PM (#28626179)

    The sperm meet the 4 basic descriptions for sperm: have 23 chromosomes, have head and tail, have egg-activating proteins, and swim. They are not exact copies of sperm, and, more importantly, only sperm made from male cells actually matured; those from female cells didn't.
    http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1909164,00.html [time.com]
    Post AC because I'm in a grouchy mood and commenting on something I usually don't comment on.

  • by blueg3 ( 192743 ) on Wednesday July 08, 2009 @02:44PM (#28626327)

    It actually turns out that's not true -- if you had nothing but the DNA sequence, you could not (even in theory) construct a human from it. For one, the mitochondria organelles have their own genetics independent of our own. The organelles are inherited directly from the mother's cells. For another, how DNA is used and rendered into proteins, etc. is altered by chemicals that are carried along with the cell. If those are stripped away, information is lost.

  • by mangu ( 126918 ) on Wednesday July 08, 2009 @06:34PM (#28629377)

    For another, how DNA is used and rendered into proteins, etc. is altered by chemicals that are carried along with the cell. If those are stripped away, information is lost.

    Not true. The way DNA is encoded into aminoacids is a universal code [rcn.com] which follows the same standards in animal, plant, or microorganism cells, with very few exceptions.

  • Re:So what? (Score:1, Informative)

    by telomerewhythere ( 1493937 ) on Wednesday July 08, 2009 @07:05PM (#28629673)
    From the Article:

    We demonstarted clearly that germ cells dereived from XY hES cells are able to enter meiosis and complete this process. In contrast, germ cells derived from XX hES cells express spermatogonia specific markers, but are not able to complete meiotic process in vitro. There are several lines of evidence demonstrating that genes on Y chromosomes are essential for meiosis.

  • Re:So what? (Score:3, Informative)

    by MBGMorden ( 803437 ) on Wednesday July 08, 2009 @10:51PM (#28631709)

    Not a clone at all. Instead you'd get the most inbred offspring imaginable. You as a person already have a pretty diverse genetic makeup - your DNA is made up of pairs of chromosomes. When you reproduce those pairs split to form some sequence (which side of the pair gets split off is essentially random).

    So for example you might have the following

    If the sperm created from you picks up the following:


    And the egg picks up:


    Then the resulting person's genetic code would be:


    That's different than the code of the original person. That property is pretty obvious when you think about it: 2 parents produce genetically different offspring every time they have different children right (aside from identical twins)?

    The problem is that for any negative recessive traits they'll only manifest themselves if it joins back with itself. Such as the AA and DD pairs above. With a stranger that's rather rare - they'd need to be carrying the same recessive gene AND you'd both need to give that gene when you reproduce. With sibling pairings, or offspring to parent pairings though, you share 50% of the same genetic code, so the chances of you both having negative recessive genes goes up dramatically, which is why inbred children are at such a high risk of birth defects. Now, with a 50% match being that bad, you can imagine that a person breeding with themselves (so a 100% match between both "parents") would produce children at an even higher risk of birth defects.

Reactor error - core dumped!