Extraordinary claims. Ordinary investigations.

Human sperm from dental pulp via mouse testicles


In what must be one of the most unexpected headlines ever, two Russian scientists, now working in Brazil, managed the feat of a Brave New World.

Irina and Alexandre Kerkis identified stem cells in the dental pulp from a male human donor, isolated them, injected them in the testicle of a mouse and extracted afterwards human sperm produced by the animal.

As science journalist Marcelo Leite notes, the research is not directly useful — infertile adult men don’t usually have their first teeth from which the stem cells could be found. And it’s improbable that anyone would want, or be even allowed, to become pregnant from sperm produced in the testicles of a mouse. Beyond the obvious aversion to such an idea, it would also have its biological risks.

But it is an advance. The research paper, "Human sperm cells yielded by adult stem cells transplantation into mouse testis", has been presented in this year’s meeting of the European Society for Human Reproduction and Embryology in Barcelona. The abstract can be read in Leite’s blog.

Though this all may sound unbelievable, especially after the infamous frauds from Hwang Woo-Suk, the research from the Kerkis is just one more of a series of similar attempts and achievements in the field.

"That hath such people in’t!"

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