For the first time, researchers have found the right laboratory conditions for growing mouse precursor cells into sperm. The finding could be a boon to fertility research. Unlike female animals, which are born with a finite supply of eggs, males begin producing sperm with the onset of puberty from a group of stem cells in the testes.
To determine what lab-culture ingredients could nurture these so-called spermatogonial stem cells (SSCs) outside the body, Ralph Brinster and his colleagues of the University of Pennsylvania spent almost a decade on trial-and-error experiments. This year, they finally hit on a specific combination of sugars, proteins, and growth factors that keep SSCs alive and multiplying.
Note: To comment, Science News subscribing members must now establish a separate login relationship with Disqus. Click the Disqus icon below, enter your e-mail and click “forgot password” to reset your password. You may also log into Disqus using Facebook, Twitter or Google.