Sperm were created in a lab and used to father healthy baby mice in a move that could help treat male infertility
Over the weekend, news broke that scientists have found a way to replicate one of the body’s “longest and most complicated” processes: the creation of sperm. Apparently, and this was news to us as well, the creation of sperm in the male body takes around a month.
You’re probably thinking a couple of things: 1) that sounds like a fun experiment! and 2) One month is “long and complicated?”(That’s what she said!) What does that make pregnancy? Infinite and incomprehensible?
I’m a guy, so obviously, I’ve never been pregnant. As the father of two young boys, I do have some experience producing sperm. What I don’t have experience in is producing sperm in mice.
Apparently, rather than have some kind of bizarre, fraternity-style hazing process, scientists decided to conduct their sperm-inducing experiments on mice. Which was probably a good call.
According to the BBC, the Chinese research used stem cells and converted them into “primitive sperm” which was used to fertilize an egg and produce healthy pups.
The study, from the journal Cell Stem Cell, showed the resulting pups were all healthy and went on to reproduce on their own.
These mice are actually having the time of their lives in the service of a good cause. The plan is to eventually move into human trials, with the goal of aiding boys and young men with fertility problems (arising from cancer or other diseases) and solving sterility.
Fellas, don’t everybody rush to sign up at once!
Joking aside, what’s being created aren’t the sperm we know and
love tolerate, with the familiar head and tail for swimming, they are actually something called “spermatids,” which develop a step earlier. But they work just the same, at least, they’ve already been used to create healthy babies in Japan. Which Professor Xiao-Yang Zhao, from the Chinese Academy of Sciences, told the BBC brings up some ethical concerns. The process is actually illegal in Japan.
There are other concerns as well. More power to the scientists looking to solve sterility, but how long before they use this to solve masculinity as well? Women are already fighting to “have it all,” and if we are somehow able to produce sperm in a lab, without any need for men, how long before “having it all” becomes absolutely literal?
My kids already prefer their mom to me. Every person in my department at work, including my boss, is a woman. And we may very well have a female president in the fall. If doctors are able to start conjuring up the one thing that makes men indispensable, all that’s left is easy-open pickle jars and it’s sayonara, señors!