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Life Without Tails
21 December 2015

Life Without Tails

Men with azoospermia – the absence (or extremely low levels) of sperm in semen – are considered infertile. And those wanting a baby are recommended to use a sperm donor during fertility treatments. However, some men with this condition do have round spermatids – cells arrested at a stage that normally would undergo further events to become mature sperm. Researchers were able to identify these round spermatids and injected them using a procedure called round spermatid injection (ROSI) into an egg cell from the man’s partner, which had been stimulated with an electric current. Pictured is the sequence of development of the fertilised egg before implantation in the partner’s uterus (from top left to bottom right). Twelve women involved in the study gave birth to a total of 14 healthy babies, showing that ROSI could enable men whose sperm don’t develop past a certain stage to have their biological child.

Written by Katie Panteli

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BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC Laboratory of Medical Sciences until Jul 2023, it is now run independently by a dedicated team of scientists and writers. The website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biology, and its influence on medicine. The ever-growing archive of more than 4000 research images documents over a decade of progress. Explore the collection and see what you discover. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.

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