Scientists Create Human Sperm From Embryonic Stem Cells, Destroy Human Life

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jul 8, 2009   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Scientists Create Human Sperm From Embryonic Stem Cells, Destroy Human Life

by Steven Ertelt Editor
July 8
, 2009

London, England ( — British scientists have used embryonic stem cells to create human sperm and made a breakthrough that they say will could revolutionize fertility treatment. However, their discovery couldn’t have been accomplished without the destruction of a unique human being and is drawing heat because of it.

Researchers at the Northeast England Stem Cell Institute say they used stem cells they obtained by killing a human embryo to create sperm.

With a few minor alterations, they say the sperm could be used to fertilize a human egg and create a new human being. Within 10 years, they say they may have the ability to allow infertile couples to have a baby who is genetically their own.

They also say that they could create sperm using female stem cells and ultimately create an unborn child using only genetic material from the mother without a man’s involvement.

The scientists involved from Newcastle and Durham Universities described the process of creating the first human sperm in the journal Stem Cells and Development.

"This is very amazing and very exciting. They have heads, they have tails and they move. The shape is not quite normal nor the movement, but they contain the proteins for egg activation, Professor Karim Nayernia told the London Telegraph.

But pro-life advocates are very concerned about the research because it involves the destruction of human life.

Josephine Quintavalle, director of Comment on Reproductive Ethics, said it was "totally wrong".
"This is man at his maddest," she said. "I think that sometimes we have to stop meddling and accept infertility. Science must be totally ethical and totally safe – this is neither."

Dr. David van Gend, national director of Australians for Ethical Stem Cell Research, talked with about the problems associated with the research.

“The abuse of embryonic humans reached a sinister new low today," he said.

“This is an abuse both because of its implications – namely, that scientists can now exploit a dead embryo as a source of sperm – but also because it was entirely unnecessary to use embryos as the source of stem cells. That was an ethically wanton act, to use embryos when an uncontentious and superior alternative was available," he said.

Van Gend told that the Newcastle researchers are already working on creating sperm from iPS cells, without exploiting embryos and he urged them to move in that direction.

“We know that iPS cells, derived from adult cells without ever using eggs or embryos, are the exact functional equivalent of embryonic stem cells," he said. "Anything an embryonic stem cell can do, an iPS can do – with the further advantage that iPS exactly matches the patient."

“The abuses of embryonic stem cell science must be ended now that we have, in iPS, a scientifically and ethically superior alternative. I look forward to the Newcastle group’s paper showing the creation of sperm from iPS cells, not embryos”, Dr van Gend concluded.

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