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Sending Male

Sperm grown from stem cells in the lab

23 September 2021

Sending Male

When sperm meets egg big changes are afoot. But even before, preparing these germline cells requires many careful transformations in the body. Here researchers replicate some of these milestones in the lab, sending mouse stem cells on a path towards becoming sperm. Along the way the team grow clusters of ‘germline stem cell-like cells’ (highlighted here in red) in different conditions, searching for those that specialise into early sperm – known as spermatogonia (green) – most efficiently. To compare their lab-grown spermatogonia with natural mouse cells, the researchers inject them into mouse testes, letting them develop and mature before using them to fertilise real eggs. These cells may offer insights into mammalian spermatogenesis, but in the future similar techniques may also aid in human fertility.

Written by John Ankers

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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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