Stem Cells Thrive in Device; Could Help Cancer Survivors Overcome Sterility
Jennifer Neeley for The Turek Clinic
Phone: +1 (415) 633-6131
San Francisco – May 21, 2014 – Dr. Paul Turek, Director and Founder of The Turek Clinic, a men’s health medical practice, and collaborators at MandalMed, Inc., and Stanford University have demonstrated that stem cells can survive and even start to thrive for over a month in a human artificial testicle. The findings were presented at the annual meeting of the American Urological Association in Orlando, FL this week.
“We are trying to recreate the normal sperm production process outside the body,” says Turek, who together with Dr. Constance M. John, President of MandalMed, received federal funding (NIEHS) to develop a bioassay for testing the effects of chemicals on male reproduction. The team used an artificial environment made from human cells–the artificial human testicle–to nurture stem cells. They began the experiments with human embryonic stem cells, which lived for 42 days and inched their way towards sperm precursor cells, all outside of the human body.
The long-term goal is to produce patient-specific sperm for men who are sterile due to cancer chemotherapy or from genetic causes. In the short term, the artificial testicle might be better way to assess the reproductive toxicity of drugs and chemicals than current methods, which rely on animal testing.
The researchers admit that they have a long way to go before making human sperm in a dish. “Sperm live in a very complex environment that is very difficult to duplicate: the human testicle,” notes Dr Cyril Ramathal, an author on the study. “But pluripotent stem cells appear very adaptable and amenable to making sperm precursors.”
This work extends on their previous research demonstrating the versatility of growing human testicular sperm precursor cells outside of the body. More recently, Dr. Turek and colleagues at Stanford reported that they had generated early sperm precursor cells from human skin biopsies. After transforming skin into stem cells in the lab, the team placed the newly made stem cells into mouse testicles within which they developed into early sperm precursor cells. Their latest research expands on this previous work by using embryonic cells instead of skin as the stem cell source and growing them in a man-made environment that replicates the human testicle instead of live mouse testicles.
About Paul Turek, MD, FACS, FRSM
Husband, father, and longboard surfer Dr. Paul Turek is the world’s leading innovator in male reproductive health. Dr. Turek is founder and director of The Turek Clinic, based in Beverly Hills and San Francisco. The practices are “clinical homes for men,” designed to provide state of the art medical treatment to men across the globe. Dr. Turek is president of the Society of Male Reproduction and Urology (SMRU), and a recent recipient of a prestigious National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant for research designed to help infertile men, such as cancer survivors, become fathers. Dr. Turek has published some of the highest success rates worldwide for vasectomy reversals and invented sperm mapping, an alternative to micro-dissection procedures. In addition to being one of the most popular doctors on Facebook, Dr. Turek blogs on a weekly basis about common medical issues, solutions and innovations. His blog is syndicated to Men’s Health Network, among others, and he was recently featured in the New York Times.
About The Turek Clinic
The Turek Clinic, founded in 2008, is a leading men’s health practice specializing in male infertility, vasectomy, vasectomy reversal, varicocele repair and other minimally invasive procedures using innovative and leading-edge techniques with success rates that are among the highest in the world. Its director, Dr. Paul Turek, FACS, FRSM, is a recipient of a prestigious National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant for research designed to help infertile men to become fathers. For more information, visit TheTurekClinic.com. A complete biography of Dr. Turek is available on Wikipedia.