A new technique developed by Ben- Gurion University researchers has generated
mouse sperm cells from testicular germ cells in a petri dish. While it will take
time to jump to human experimentation, Prof. Mahmoud Huleihel and his research
group call their in vitro work a “breakthrough” that could eventually help
infertile men who cannot produce sperm, as well as boys before puberty who are
at risk of infertility after undergoing aggressive therapies and, at a young
age, cannot produce sperm for freezing for later use.
Germ cells give
rise to the gametes, which are cells that fuse with other cells in an organism
that reproduces sexually.
Huleihel, who is part of the Shraga Segal
Department of Microbiology and Immunology in the Faculty of Health Sciences in
Beersheba, published an article on the achievement in the Asian Journal of
Huleihel and his team, which pioneered the technique, used a
threedimensional culture system (SACS) on a bed of agar (processed seaweed) to
generate the sperm.
The study was performed in cooperation with Prof.
Eitan Lunenfeld at Soroka University Medical Center and Prof.
Schlatt of the University of Münster in Germany.
The researchers said
SACS has the capacity to induce testicular germ cells to reach the final stages
of spermatogenesis and have a normal shape. The mice who were experimented on
were only seven days old.
Huleihel said that most attempts to culture
male germ cells have used twodimensional cell culture systems. But their unique
three-dimensional cell culture system using soft agar “is more representative”
of natural conditions to which a cell is exposed in an organ. In the past, the
three-dimensional SACS has been used to investigate proliferation and
differentiation of bone marrow and blood cells in vitro.