New research has shown that testicles could be a new source for viable non-embryonic stem cells. The very thought of testicular biopsies, resonating through the editorial staff of Medgadget, calls for a continued search for other methods to obtain stem cells.
The new stem cells, known as human adult germline stem cells (GSCs), were grown by researchers in Germany and the U.K. by adding special growth factors to spermatogonial cells extracted from testes. Spermatogonial cells are stem cells in the adult testis that normally generate only one type of differentiated cell (sperm). But with the right growth factors, these spermatogonial cells can change to become pluripotent. They begin to produce proteins normally made by embryonic stem cells and acquire the ability to differentiate into many different cell types.
In a paper published today in Nature, Thomas Skutella of the University of Tubingen, in Germany, and his colleagues raise the possibility that adult GSCs could overcome many of the hurdles still facing alternative approaches.
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Image: Testicular transformation: Stem cells from adult human testes normally produce only sperm, but when cultured in the lab with special growth factors, they begin to resemble embryonic stem cells and can differentiate into many adult cell types. Credit: Thomas Skutella