Researchers have been able to overcome a genetic cause of infertility in mice, the Guardian reports.
It notes that about 1 in 500 boys are born with an extra X chromosome or Y chromosome, which makes them infertile. Researchers from the UK and Japan, however, report in Science that they were able to generate XY sperm from trisomic mice.
A Francis Crick Institute-led team found that when fibroblasts from sterile XXY or XYY mice underwent reprogramming during the generation of induced pluripotent stem cells, they lost the extra sex chromosome. The resulting euploid iPSC cells could then be differentiated into functional mouse sperm, they report, adding that the resulting offspring were fertile.
"It would be interesting to see whether the same approach could one day be used as a fertility treatment for men with three sex chromosomes," the Crick's Takayuki Hirota tells the Guardian.
He and his colleagues note in their paper that more work is needed to ensure the safety of the approach, especially as some of the mice into which altered sperm cells were injected developed tumors.
The Guardian also says that the UK currently does not allow artificially produced sperm to be used to make babies.