A Sad Irony

Fetus

Post by nebcanuck, Stephen’s son.

A newspiece on the CBC website today made the announcement that scientists in England are close to producing artificial sperm:

British scientists say they have taken human embryonic stem cells and turned them into sperm-like cells that have moving tails.

Researchers at Newcastle University and the NorthEast England Stem Cell Institute say the work is in its early stages and the end result, while containing all the essential qualities for creating life, is not perfect.

Newcastle research leader Karim Nayernia said in a statement Wednesday that the technique they used could some day help develop treatments for infertile couples, although current British law forbids the use of lab-created sperm or egg cells in fertility treatments.

How strangely, sadly ironic that this benefit for people unable to have children comes at the cost of fetuses.

British scientists say they have taken human embryonic stem cells and turned them into sperm-like cells that have moving tails.

Prof. Karim Nayernia, seen here at work in Newcastle, England, says the research will help further study the development of sperm and possibly help create treatments for infertile men.Prof. Karim Nayernia, seen here at work in Newcastle, England, says the research will help further study the development of sperm and possibly help create treatments for infertile men. (Scott Heppell/Associated Press)Researchers at Newcastle University and the NorthEast England Stem Cell Institute say the work is in its early stages and the end result, while containing all the essential qualities for creating life, is not perfect.

Newcastle research leader Karim Nayernia said in a statement Wednesday that the technique they used could some day help develop treatments for infertile couples, although current British law forbids the use of lab-created sperm or egg cells in fertility treatments.

Advertisements

4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. billarends
    Jul 09, 2009 @ 08:47:46

    Although the medical community will likely take the rout of least complication and take the stem cells from aborted foetuses, it may also possible to harvest these cells from directed engineering of umbilical cord blood stem cells, in the future. So the medical advance is not lost just delayed. That said, the use of this technology is long off and depending on the speed of development of both, directed engineering of umbilical cord blood stem cells, and artificial sperm may culminate at about the same time one would hope. Thus avoiding the ethical dilemma.

    Reply

  2. nebcanuck
    Jul 09, 2009 @ 10:49:33

    Yeah, I’ve heard that’s a potential development. But as far as I can tell the stuff they’re developing right now, as per the article, is using fetus cells.

    I’d be glad for that particular ethical dilemma to go away. But it’s there, right now, and it’s ironic that one of the things they’re attempting to develop is to help potential parents.

    Reply

  3. Stephen
    Jul 10, 2009 @ 09:37:26

    “Sperm-like” cells doesn’t sound like much of a breakthrough, does it? And if you have to begin with an embryo (i.e., a fertilized egg) — in that case, you needed sperm at the beginning of the process before you could “produce” these sperm.

    I don’t mean to be overly cynical. I understand that this is a very promising area of research that could lead to cures for certain catastrophic diseases. But this particular announcement fails to impress me, somehow.

    Reply

  4. billarends
    Jul 10, 2009 @ 10:41:06

    Good point Stephen, No it’s not parthenogenesis, by a long shot. How will this actually help infertile couples? If the male partner could help produce the first foetus from which the “sperm like cells” were created then why would this be used and not his sperm? If he was suffering from some kind of degenerative sperm problem then why not just preserve his sperm, for later use?

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: