by Steven Ertelt
April 2, 2006
Sacramento, CA (LifeNews.com) — Researchers in California say they have found stem cells in men’s testicles that have embryonic stem cell-like qualities. They have been able to prompt the cells to turn into nerve, heart and bone cells and the discovery could be another alternative to embryonic stem cell research.
Scientists at the California-based PrimeGen Biotech presented their results to fellow researchers at a meeting of stem cell scientists in Spain on Saturday.
Their findings follow on the heels of an announcement last week from German researchers who found new adult stem cells in mice testicles that have similar properties to embryonic stem cells.
Francisco Silva and colleagues say they took the German research a step further and found the same adult stem cells in human testicles.
"Germ cells isolated from adult human testis can be therapeutically reprogrammed to have the ability to differentiate into cells that can be used therapeutically for cell-based regenerative medicine," Silva’s team wrote in a paper.
"We’ve already been able to reproducibly differentiate heart, brain, bone and cartilage cells, and we are excited to begin testing how these cells incorporate into tissues," Silva said, according to a Reuters report.
Silva’s team used cells from the testes of men aged between 26 and 50 years, and created cell cultures using them.
"We have demonstrated that there’s a novel source of adult stem cells which, aside from having a role in reproduction, can be reprogrammed and used therapeutically," PrimeGen chairman Thomas Yuen said.
"We have taken the most well preserved, highest-quality stem cell and made it pluripotent (capable of growing into any cell type), representing one of the most significant breakthroughs in regenerative medicine," Yuen explained. "These cells advance the potential for cellular replacement therapy for everyone."
According to Silva, the findings have been confirmed by an independent German laboratory.
Dr. Gerd Hasenfuss, of Georg-August University in Gottingen, indicated his team was also 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.
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.