- The Washington Times - Monday, September 15, 2003


Embryonic stem cells have been encouraged to grow into sperm cells for the first time, Japanese scientists report.

The work is very preliminary, and was done in the laboratory with mouse stem cells. The next step would be to determine whether it can be repeated in live animals.

Stem cells are the building blocks of animals, forming in the new embryo and later developing into the various organs and tissues as the fetus grows.

Researchers have grown stem cells into many other types of cells, including egg cells, but this is the first time a sperm cell has been developed, the scientists said.

The work was headed by Toshiaki Noce of Mitsubishi Kagaku Institute of Life Science in Japan. The results were reported in this week’s online issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.

Mr. Noce and his team incubated the stem cells with other cells that produce a protein called BMP4, which is known to stimulate formation of sperm cells during the development of an embryo. In their laboratory, some of the stem cells began developing into sperm cells within one day, a process that takes three days in the embryo.

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