Testicle stem cell development

October 18, 2008

Don’t all rush off chaps, with your eyes watering, this is actually a potentially huge medical breakthrough. German researchers believe this may provide an alternative way to generate powerful stem cells that could be used to repair or replace damaged tissue in male patients with hard-to-treat diseases. Currently, scientists create stem cells by extracting them from embryos or genetically manipulating adult cells to enable them to become many other cell types.

Thomas Skutella, Director of the Centre for Regenerative Biology and Medicine, in Tuebingen, Germany, was able to isolate stem cells from the testicles of adult men and turn them into bone, muscle, neural and other kinds of cells. The advance was reported in the journal Nature, who also said that the use of testicle cells also represents a new way to take biopsies from people with Parkinson’s – or any kind of inherited disease- and study the cells to learn how they function and respond to drugs. One advantage of Skutella’s method is that if a man’s own cells were used to make a therapy, they could be used to treat him without fear that his body would reject the cells.

Further research is continuing, and while at the moment they have only succeeded in making the stem cells when they had an entire testicle to use for extracting cells, they are confident that improvements in the process would enable it to work using just a small bit of testicular tissue taken in a biopsy. Currently they are obtaining the necessary tissue from organ donors and men being treated for infertility or had their testicles removed in the course of surgery to change or to treat prostate cancer.


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