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Scientists Grow A Pair Of Artificial Testicles In Quest To Tackle Male Infertility

The scientists observed that their organoids showed "indications of entering meiosis," which is the biological process responsible for reducinging the number of chromosomes to half to form sperm cells.

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Researchers at Israel’s Bar-Ilan University have successfully cultivated “laboratory testicles” with the potential to alleviate male infertility, a condition affecting 10% to 15% of American men.

These miniature artificial organs, derived from cells extracted from mouse testes, closely resemble the structure and functionality of natural mouse testicles. Led by Dr. Nitzan Gonen, the team aims to advance their research to develop human-like testicles from human stem cells, offering hope for treating developmental sex disorders and infertility.

Dr. Gonen explained to Haaretz last week, “Fertility clinics can identify some causes of male infertility, such as low sperm count or abnormal structure, but the underlying genetic mutations or malfunctioning within the testicles remain unclear. Our model allows for deeper study into these issues.”

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The researchers successfully produced organoids—miniature versions of immature organs—resembling the brain, kidneys, and intestines from stem cells. Their breakthrough involved culturing organoids from immature testicular cells extracted from neonatal mice.

Observations revealed tubule-like structures and cellular organization resembling those found in natural testes. These artificial mouse testicles functioned effectively for nine weeks, sufficient time for sperm generation and release—a process taking approximately 34.5 days in mice.

Published in the International Journal of Biological Sciences, the study highlighted signs of entry into meiosis—a crucial process in sperm cell formation. Dr. Gonen envisions utilizing this technology to assist boys with cancer, preserving their fertility by growing functional sperm from pre-treatment biopsies for future use.

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Dr. Gonen foresees applications in the livestock industry, where controlling the sex of farm animals could significantly enhance production efficiency and animal welfare.

The potential benefits are immense, as Dr. Gonen elaborated, “Improving livestock production and reducing unnecessary animal slaughter are just some of the positive impacts this technology could have on various industries.”

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