Forgive me for dreaming, but it’s the New Year and a great time to think about what the future holds, if only for a moment. Maybe you have a vision for what you’d like to see happen, whether political, financial, personal or global. Here is a deeply felt professional vision that constantly inspires me.
You are a patient and you have been told that you are sterile and cannot have kids. Imagine me telling you two things: 1) that it might not be true, and 2) I can figure it out without hurting you or even touching you. No surgical testis biopsy. No highly acclaimed fine needle aspiration map. Just jump into a specially designed, radiation-free, MRI scanner for 15 minutes and learn the answer. No muss, no fuss.
That, my friends, is the goal of testicular metabolomics. And we are inching closer to this reality every day as I live and breathe on this good earth.
The Metabolomic Crystal Ball
But there’s more. Say that the metabolomic scan finds that you indeed are sterile and that no sperm exist in the testicles for you to use with IVF-ICSI. However, the scan tells us something else: that there are early germ cells (sperm precursor cells) present. Now, imagine removing some of these early germ cells (stem cells) from the testicle, putting them into an artificial testicle and, just as a seed becomes a plant, make sperm outside your body. Your sperm, with your genetic material. The magic of stem cell technology.
Stem Cells to the Rescue
Now, suppose that the metabolomic scan shows no early germ cells in the testicle. Is this really the end of the rope? Hopefully not. Imagine taking a simple skin biopsy or mouth swab and creating stem cells for you that could then be placed into the same artificial testicle to make sperm. Your sperm. Again, the glorious potential of stem cell science.
I get all jittery just thinking about the impact that these technologies could have on the future of human male infertility. This puts a wide smile on my face and continually fuels my passion for making it happen. Reality check #1: it will take time. Rome wasn’t built in a day. Reality check #2: in the words of Brian Clough “I wasn’t on that particular job.”
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