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Sperm Precursor Cells Created From Stem Cells
April 14, 2007 8:55 AM   Subscribe

Scientists say they have successfully made immature sperm cells from human bone marrow samples.
posted by jason's_planet (42 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
The government's recent fertility White Paper proposes a ban on using artificially created sperm or eggs in assisted reproduction.

The government here is the UK government. But it won't actually prevent people from using it in other countries.

I find this fascinating. Not only could it allow creation of sperm for infertile men, but it could also allow the creation of sperm from women. In theory a woman could impregnate herself!

Of course, it depends on whether or not the work pans out, and frankly I imagine that most governments will try to ban crazy reproduction scenarios like the ones I've outlined just as they've tried to ban cloning.
posted by delmoi at 8:59 AM on April 14, 2007


The clone wars will begin soon.
posted by IronLizard at 9:00 AM on April 14, 2007


Oh man, that diagram at the bottom of the article looks painful.
posted by delmoi at 9:02 AM on April 14, 2007


Sperm from a bone. Who knew?
posted by Rumple at 9:06 AM on April 14, 2007 [4 favorites]


guys ... i suddenly feel a lot less necessary ...
posted by pyramid termite at 9:07 AM on April 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


Thank god my girl still prefers practice over execution.
posted by fusinski at 9:13 AM on April 14, 2007 [2 favorites]


guys ... i suddenly feel a lot less necessary ...

Why? Women like cock.

Ok, so they'll eventually be able to get a baby from just about anywhere. Most will still want to reproduce the old fashion way and they'll still want a mate to help raise the child. There'll just be a lot more options.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:19 AM on April 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


Oh man, couple that with a Dude-erus, and you've got crazy reproductive fun times!
posted by redbeard at 9:20 AM on April 14, 2007


Wouldn't a woman impregnating herself be rather dangerous? I mean, it's like inbreeding to the nth power.
posted by papakwanz at 9:30 AM on April 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


papakwanz, yes indeed. But a lesbian couple could use it to have (female only) children.
posted by atrazine at 9:33 AM on April 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


Suddenly my third leg doesn't feel so high and mightly now that my first and second leg can perform some of the same tricks.
posted by Frank Grimes at 9:42 AM on April 14, 2007 [6 favorites]


*escapes to Mars before robot feminazis purge world of redundant, space-wasting men*
posted by DU at 9:45 AM on April 14, 2007


According to my girlfriend, immature sperm cells have been around for at least 31 years.
posted by jimmythefish at 9:52 AM on April 14, 2007 [2 favorites]


well, they should be mature by now.
posted by jonmc at 9:56 AM on April 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


Legal to drink != mature, jonmc.
posted by eriko at 10:04 AM on April 14, 2007


Does this give new meaning to getting a boner?
posted by PHINC at 10:15 AM on April 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


So now I'm going to have to start worrying about femur size?
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:16 AM on April 14, 2007


thank's for conjuring up images of drunken sperm cells, eriko. What would drunken sperm do anyway, go to supermarkets and try to fertilize a dozen egss, beat up condoms, that kinda thing?
posted by jonmc at 10:17 AM on April 14, 2007


*escapes to Mars before robot feminazis purge world of redundant, space-wasting men*

*hides in cave, anticipating party with hawt cock-starved feminazis*
posted by LordSludge at 10:27 AM on April 14, 2007


When I picture immature sperm I see these little guys that keep giggling uncontrolably when ever they realize whet they are.
posted by Wonderwoman at 10:35 AM on April 14, 2007 [8 favorites]


Anyone ever hear of an anime series called "Vandread"? In that one, in one system men and women have moved to different planets and are at war with one another. Needless to say this represents a problem for reproduction.

On Tarak, the men's world, babies come from a factory. They have two parents, both men. A son refers to both of them as "father".

On Mejale, the women's world, babies are born normally, but have two female parents. The Mejalian women invented two new words for parental relationships: ohma and fahma. The Fahma is the birth mother, the one who became pregnant. The Ohma is the other parent, who provided genes but was not involved in carrying the child.

Maybe we're going to need those words soon, or something like them.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 10:57 AM on April 14, 2007 [2 favorites]


Who needs sperm? Men will be able to make women from a piece of rib.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 11:00 AM on April 14, 2007 [2 favorites]


Maybe we're going to need those words soon, or something like them.

Can I buy some pot from you?
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 11:01 AM on April 14, 2007 [7 favorites]


"Not only could it allow creation of sperm for infertile men, but it could also allow the creation of sperm from _women_."

Not necessarily. Maybe I missed something in the article. And I know squat about this stuff. But what if the development of a stem cell into a sperm requires something on the Y chromosome? (Well, half the sperm cells don't have the Y chromosome so I suppose that might answer my question.)

If it were possible, such a sperm could be used with one of the woman's eggs for a clone, which would probably work much better than current cloning techniques because it avoids the epigenetic problems.

But I was thinking about this earlier from a different direction and that's why I was thinking about an asymmetry.

What would really have profound consequences was making new egg cells. A man could be cloned this way as well as cloning a true female version of a man's genome. There's not an equivalent for women, you'd have to use genetic engineering to replace an X chromosome with the Y from the woman's father.

Anyway, it seems to me that this is how cloning will be done, assuming the errors introduced by making these sperm are less than the errors introduced by the epigenetic effects we don't understand in conventional cloning.

Oh, and of course if you have male and female versions of what otherwise is the same genome, then they could reproduce naturally and make more clones of themselves indefinitely.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 11:03 AM on April 14, 2007


So you can't get blood from a stone, but you can get sperm from a bone?
posted by kirkaracha at 11:29 AM on April 14, 2007


Can I buy some pot from you?

Don't use no drugs. I get high on anime instead.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 11:53 AM on April 14, 2007


Wait, are you seriously asking if sperm can be obtained through a bone?
posted by Talanvor at 11:58 AM on April 14, 2007


Ethereal Bligh: I think this would be even less effective then regular cloning. The main reason is that DNA is recombinated when when the egg is fertilized. The more similar the DNA is, the more recombination takes place, and this can cause mutations if the DNA is too similar. That's why incest can lead to birth defects. This would be like the ultimate form of birth defects.
posted by delmoi at 12:39 PM on April 14, 2007


Maybe we're going to need those words soon, or something like them.

wait until they find the gene for cat ears
posted by pyramid termite at 1:22 PM on April 14, 2007 [2 favorites]


wait until they find the gene for cat ears

NOW you're talking...
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 2:14 PM on April 14, 2007


"The main reason is that DNA is recombinated when when the egg is fertilized. The more similar the DNA is, the more recombination takes place, and this can cause mutations if the DNA is too similar."

That's news to me. But even though...

"That's why incest can lead to birth defects."

...might be true because of what you say above, the main cause of birth defects from close relatives is recessive genes.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 2:25 PM on April 14, 2007


An ex-geneticist's take: delmoi has the right outcome and EB is right about the mechanism. Self fertilization is mixing two genomes with exactly the same harmful recessive genes, so for every single such gene the parent carries there is a 1/4 chance that the offspring will have two copies of the bad allele. Self fertilisation does not make clones.
posted by Canard de Vasco at 4:34 PM on April 14, 2007


"Self fertilisation does not make clones."

Okay, I'm really glad to be corrected on that. I'm ashamed to know so little about this.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 4:44 PM on April 14, 2007


That... is Protoculture? Ugh!
posted by loquacious at 4:59 PM on April 14, 2007


That's nothing... I can make sperm using nothing but a "Girls Gone Wild" video.
posted by annasbrew at 6:31 PM on April 14, 2007


Huh, I guess "boner" is now an anatomically-correct term!
posted by five fresh fish at 7:27 PM on April 14, 2007


Perhaps you all should start paying us equally and stop moaning about "women's rights" now that you're going to be rendered irrelevant in... twenty years or so.

We also would like tampons to be free and estrogen added to the drinking water.

TIA!
posted by grapefruitmoon at 7:45 PM on April 14, 2007


Isn't there already a lot of estrogen in the drinking water? ISTR the The Pill is causing strange sexual development of freshwater fish and, as we tend to drink the same water the fish do, perhaps people.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:31 PM on April 14, 2007


Eew! Cooties! Girls have cooties!
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 9:05 PM on April 14, 2007


Yeah, but we have bone-sperm.
posted by dirigibleman at 10:04 PM on April 14, 2007


As a stem cell biologist, I would seriously caution anyone from reading too much into this. Transdifferentiation is practically a curse in the scientific community, and rightly so as ALL studies that have reported this kind of cellular developmental plasticity for one reason or another have not or cannot be reproduced by other labs. This is the standard in science, reproducibility, and everyone should await confirmation of the work meeting this standard. Case in point, about five years ago some other groups reported that adult hematopoietic stem cells (which are another type of stem cell in bone marrow) could be coaxed into different types of tissues such as neurons. Last year Amy Wagers at Harvard put that one to rest. I am not saying this is not possible, just that the results should definitely be taken with a grain of salt.
posted by available at 12:42 AM on April 16, 2007


As a stem cell biologist, I would seriously caution anyone from reading too much into this. Transdifferentiation is practically a curse in the scientific community, and rightly so as ALL studies that have reported this kind of cellular developmental plasticity for one reason or another have not or cannot be reproduced by other labs. This is the standard in science, reproducibility, and everyone should await confirmation of the work meeting this standard.

Point very well taken. Thanks for speaking up.
posted by jason's_planet at 6:22 PM on April 16, 2007


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