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Human sperm maturation study may hold insights

Shaoni Bhattacharya

Progress Educational Trust

12 October 2017

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[BioNews, London]

Researchers hope that a study detailing the four stages of human sperm stem cell development may shed light on infertility and certain cancers.

The study is the first to look at sperm stem cell maturation specifically in humans, says the study team.

'This information yields new insights into how sperm stem cells function and develop under normal circumstances,' said Dr Bradley Cairns, lead study author at the Huntsman Cancer Institute at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. 'We have built a very important framework we can now use to help us understand what happens when things go wrong, resulting in issues like infertility and cancer in men.'

The team examined the gene expression profile of sperm stem cells during development. They identified four distinct phases: starting with a 'quiescent' state, to a 'proliferation' state when stem cells divide, to a 'differentiation' state when they mature to become sperm.

Most notably the study found distinct transitions in factors that influenced the different cellular states including cell cycle regulators, transcription factors, and signalling factors.

The researchers suggest their findings may also help in the understanding of certain cancers. For example, men with infertility are at higher risk of testicular and prostate cancers.

'Our study sheds new light on how genes normally function in sperm stem cells,' said Dr Cairns. 'The next steps will be to use this knowledge to better understand what changes happen when sperm stem cells don't develop normally and instead convert into cancer cells.'

The findings were published in Cell Stem Cell.



Chromatin and Single-Cell RNA-Seq Profiling Reveal Dynamic Signaling and Metabolic Transitions during Human Spermatogonial Stem Cell Development

Cell Stem Cell | 05 October 2017

Groundbreaking University of Utah sperm stem cell study sheds light on infertility, related cancers

The Salt Lake City Tribune | 05 October 2017

Huntsman Cancer Institute research could shed light on male infertility, cancer

Gephardt Daily | 05 October 2017

New Research on Sperm Stem Cells has Implications for Male Infertility and Cancer

Huntsman Cancer Institute, University of Utah | 05 October 2017

© Copyright Progress Educational Trust

Reproduced with permission from BioNews, an email and online sources of news, information and comment on assisted reproduction and genetics.

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Date Added: 12 October 2017   Date Updated: 12 October 2017
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