Stem Cells in Testicles Similar to Ones From Embryonic Stem Cell Research

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Mar 26, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Stem Cells in Testicles Similar to Ones From Embryonic Stem Cell Research Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
March 26, 2006

Gottingen, Germany ( — New adult stem cells found in testicles of mice have similar properties to embryonic stem cells and could provide another source of obtaining quality cells to treat diseases. If cells from human testicles operate in the same manner, it could offer another reason against continuing embryonic stem cell research — which destroys human life.

German researchers discovered the cells in the testes of adult mice that normally turn into sperm cells for reproduction. However, the scientists determined the stem cells could also be prompted to turn into different types of tissue, including liver, heart, muscle, skin, pancreas and nerve cells.

Dr. Gerd Hasenfuss, of Georg-August University in Gottingen, indicated his team was beginning to study the cells in human males and has found similar results so far.

"These isolated spermatogonial stem cells respond to culture conditions and acquire embryonic stem cell properties," he wrote about the new cells, according to Reuters.

If the results can be repeated in people, Hasenfuss said the cells could result in patient-specific matches "without the ethical and immunological problems associated with human embryonic stem cells."

Embryonic stem cells have never been ready to be tried on humans and treatments on animals have found that the cells were rejected by the immune system. Claims by South Korean scientists to have overcome the problem proved fraudulent.

"This is a very exciting piece of work," Professor Robin Lovell-Badge, of the National Institute for Medical Research in Britain told London’s The Daily Telegraph.

The chairman of the National Committee of Medicine of the Australian Academy of Science, Professor Bob Williamson, told the Sydney Herald newspaper that the find is just another of many examples showing adult stem cells can be just as versatile as embryonic ones.

Hasenfuss and his team call the new cells multipotent adult germline stem cells.

The German researchers will publish their findings this week in the scientific journal Nature.

Hasenfuss said editors there demanded extra tests and heavy documentation before agreeing to publish the report. The journal was forced to retract two false embryonic stem cell research papers submitted by Hwang Woo-suk’s team.