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Japan:Mice produced with sperm made from iPS cells

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Laaska News  August 6,2011

Japanese researchers have announced a breakthrough fertility experiment using induced pluripotent stem cells, or iPS cells. For the first time in the world, sperm made from the iPS cells of a mouse was used to fertilize eggs and produce offspring.

The team is led by Professor Mitinori Saitou of the Kyoto University Graduate School of Medicine. iPS cells can develop into any tissue or organ.

The team created iPS cells from cells of a male mouse. It added a protein that turned them into primordial germ cells, which can generate sperm and eggs.

The cells were then transplanted to a male mouse’s testis, which generated sperm in about 10 weeks. The sperm was used to fertilize the eggs in a test tube.

This is the first time normal sperm has been produced from iPS cells, and the first offspring produced from such sperm.

Professor Saitou says he hopes the research will pave the way for clarifying the production mechanism of reproductive cells as well as the cause of infertility.

Professor emeritus Takahide Mori of Kyoto University speaks highly of the outcome. He says mass production of cells that produce sperm and eggs should help clarify how they are produced and the reasons for infertility.

However, some experts have raised ethical questions about creating human sperm or eggs from iPS cells. They say theoretically, it would enable the production of offspring by creating sperm and eggs from one person.

Under guidelines set in May last year, the Japanese government allows production of sperm and eggs from human iPS cells, but there is a ban on fertilizing them.

Professor Ryuichi Ida of Kyoto University’s Graduate School of Law, who helped create the guidelines, says questions remain on whether artificial creation of human life can be allowed. He says that’s why the guidelines ban the creation of fertilized eggs.

Professor Ida says researchers need to fully understand values and opinions in their society.

NHK.

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