FRIDAY, April 13, 2007 (HealthDay News) -- For the first time, scientists have used human bone marrow to create early stage sperm cells, a research advance that will help improve understanding about how sperm cells are created, a new study says.
Publishing in the April 13 issue of the journal Reproduction: Gamete Biology, a team of scientists in Germany took bone marrow from male volunteers and isolated the mesenchymal stem cells, which have previously been found to grow into different kinds of body tissues, such as muscle.
The researchers cultured the mesenchymal stem cells in the laboratory and directed them into becoming male reproductive cells called germ cells. The scientists eventually detected the presence of partly developed sperm cells called spermatagonial stem cells, which are an early stage of male germ cell development.
In most men, spermatagonial cells develop into mature functional sperm. This study did not progress that far.
"We're very excited about this discovery, particularly as our earlier work in mice suggests that we could develop this work even further," study leader Karim Nayernia, formerly of the University of Gottingen in Germany and now a professor of stem cell biology with the North East England Stem Cell Institute, said in a prepared statement.
"Our next goal is to see if we can get the spermatagonial stem cells to progress to mature sperm in the laboratory and this should take around three to five years of experiments," Nayernia said.
The American Academy of Family Physicians explains male infertility.