Testicle Cells to Substitute for Embryonic Stem Cells?The Guardian
reported a few days ago (I know, I’m behind) that British scientists will see if cells obtained from male testicles can exhibit the pluripotent properties of embryonic stem cells. Testicular tissue is rich in stem cells (not surprising, since it has to generate all those sperm), and the researchers will grow those cells in parallel with embryonic stem cells to see if they develop the same way. If they do so, then the next step will be to try to coax them into differentiating into different tissues.
The article doesn’t go deep into the science—I hope that the researchers experiment with different growth cultures as well, since that seems to be a factor in development of at least some types of stem cells. One important point the story does make is that an estimated 150 different stem cell lines would match close to 90% of the population. My nomination for quote of the week is a comment on this issue:
Professor Chris Barratt, scientific director of the Assisted Conception Unit at the Birmingham women's hospital, said: “There are a lot of testicles around and you don't need a staggering number to have enough variety to match nearly all of the population.”
The procedure by which the cells will be obtained was not described, but one researcher said, “it isn't actually as traumatic as it sounds.” I would guess it’s a fairy simple surgical procedure that doesn’t require the use of hormones and so on which is necessary to get eggs from women. So men, line up!