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Mice Produced Using Artificial Sperm 435

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the photocopied-mice dept.
vasanth writes to tell us scientists have successfully grown mice from artificial sperm. The sperm was created from embryonic stem cells and implanted into female mice. There were a few problems, including that some of the mice showed abnormal patterns of growth and difficulty breathing. The hope here is to assist couples who are having difficulties with conception.
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Mice Produced Using Artificial Sperm

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  • Artificial Sperm? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by lecithin (745575) on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @02:04PM (#15699658)
    Not artificial sperm, but artificially grown sperm.

    People took'sperm seeds' from stem cells and grew them into mature sperm outside the gonads.

    Regardless, it looks like males have one less reason for existance.
  • Oh really? (Score:3, Funny)

    by Rendo (918276) on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @02:06PM (#15699670)
    It seems women are getting more and more fed up with us males that they're working diligantly on not needing us anymore. We can choose which sex, now we're working on assisting "couples" (of women) in having babies. Damn... At least I've procreated!
    • Damn... At least I've procreated!
      Me too! Darn, my only child is a boy.
    • by oni (41625)
      they're working diligantly on not needing us anymore.

      They don't need us and the human species will be better off without us. We (males) are just too aggressive and violent.

      Of course, the reason males are aggressive is the same as the reason that male peacocks have such enormous plumes. You don't think that male peacocks actually *want* to have those ridiculous tales do you? Oh no. The reason they have those tales is that female peacocks like it that way. The same sort of thing happens with humans. Men
      • by CosmeticLobotamy (155360) on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @02:31PM (#15699931)
        I hate to have to tell you this, but girls aren't passing you up because you're not aggressive or violent enough, it's because you're ugly, boring, or both. Sorry. If it makes you feel better, I'm right there with you.
        • by Grishnakh (216268)
          Sorry, I disagree. While there certainly are some intelligent women out there who choose men based on criteria more useful in modern society, such as being able to hold a job, there are many, many women out there who just can't live without a guy that acts like an asshole, and frequently treats her poorly and/or beats her. These women just aren't smart enough to recognize the pattern and stop looking for the same kind of guy. Then these women have kids, raise their kids in that environment, and the vicio
          • My wife made this mistake with one guy when she was about 20, but it only lasted for a few months. After that, she recognized the problem, and never got involved with assholes again.

            Hmmmm..... that's what she told YOU anyway......

          • "The fact of the matter is that there's a lot of women out there with poor self-esteem".

            This can't be emphasize enough. Often the most beautiful women (both outside and inside) are the ones that have problems. Some think they can overcome it by becoming sluts. Others just don't date, or date men that know how to exploit poor self-esteem.

            I see this in my own (extended) family. My wife's cousin, 20 years old, very beautiful, blond, sweet and loving, has a hard time dating. Two of her recent boyfriends have ei
    • "couples" (of women)
      No need to be alarmed. This happens all the time. I've been watching videos of it on the internet for years.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @02:07PM (#15699681)
    Aren't there already enough unwanted, unluved mice babies already?
  • by Doug Dante (22218) on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @02:09PM (#15699697)
    Lesbian couples can now eliminate the external sperm doner and Heather can have two mommies [amazon.com] who are both her biological parents. All children will be girls, unless a Y chromosome is added from a donor and an X is yanked.

    Given some time, eggs may also be made as well as sperm from stem cells, and homosexual male couples can also have biological children with the help of a woman to carry the fetus.

    • ObPython (Score:2, Funny)

      by Rob T Firefly (844560)
      Given some time, eggs may also be made as well as sperm from stem cells, and homosexual male couples can also have biological children with the help of a woman to carry the fetus.
      Where's the fetus gonna gestate, in a box?
    • "Glory Season" (Score:3, Interesting)

      by StefanJ (88986)
      This was the set-up for David Brin's novel Glory Season: The vast majority of the population of an isolated colony world were female, and most of those were clones of various ancestral mothers.

      A few men were kept around to provide sperm for modification; there was also a small minority population of non-clone women produced the old fashioned way.

      The protagonist was a young "mixed" woman trying to move up in the world.
      • Re:"Glory Season" (Score:3, Interesting)

        by david.given (6740)

        This was the set-up for David Brin's novel Glory Season: The vast majority of the population of an isolated colony world were female, and most of those were clones of various ancestral mothers.

        A good book (although the Conway's Game of Life obsession did strike me as rather odd).

        Another good book is Lois McMaster Bujold's Ethan of Athos, which turns the scenario on its head: her colony world is inhabited solely by men. They use technological alternatives ('uterine replicators') to in utero gestation. T

    • Or will it even be possible for Heather to have One Parent. Think about it, why couldn't they take stem cells from a female, and then turn those right around and fertilize that same females eggs with them?

      I suppose the real question would then be this: Since both Gametes are of the same genetic origin, would it then be a clone? If it was a clone, did we just solve all the aging problems previously associated with cloning.

      If any of the above is true, then we just gained the ability to reproduce A-sexually
      • It wouldn't be a clone, it would be a parthenogenetic daughter. The genes would still munge and scramble in the meiosis phase prior to budding off sperms and eggs. Result: a new child all of whose genes originate from the mother, but some doubled, some missing, and in a different order.

        It would be sort of like the ultimate incest and have all the problems thereof, but not a clone.
  • The Mice? (Score:2, Funny)

    by neonprimetime (528653)
    As well as the safety concerns, using stem cells to create sperm also raises ethical questions.

    Has anybody thought of the mice? Aren't we playing GOD with them? Shouldn't they have a right to live and roam free and not be subject to those humans obsessed with fertilizing them? Disgusting and definitely unethical.
  • by Silent sound (960334) on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @02:09PM (#15699711)
    You know, with some of the recent medical advances I keep idly wondering how long it's going to be before the statement "same-sex couples can't have biological children" is no longer true. After all, there's no particular reason the stem cells used to create the artificial sperm in this procedure would have to come from a male, is there?
  • Initial gut reaction (Score:4, Interesting)

    by teasea (11940) <<moc.liamtoh> <ta> <loots_t>> on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @02:13PM (#15699736)
    Ummmm....

    Ew.
  • It would be interesting to hear about what specific abnormalities they suffered from - "abnormal patterns of growth" sounds a lot like what goes wrong with many clones. I wonder if the problems are caused by similar changes in gene expression.
  • Um, has the church commented on this, by any chance? Can't see them taking the news too well.
    • Not counting the church, has anyone asked a medical opinion on this? When couples can't have children, there is often a very good genetic reason for it; forcing the issue can create a significant burden on the social infrastructure down the line.

      It's not like we don't have too many people already, and need every single possible way of creating more...

  • by scheming daemons (101928) on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @02:17PM (#15699772)
    The hope here is to assist couples who are having difficulties with conception.

    With this technology, two women could generate a baby that has 23 chromosomes from each of them. Men would no longer be necessary to create a new human being that is genetically half of two different individuals.

    And since both "halves" would be providing an X chromosome and never a Y, the resulting baby would be female... every time.

    If enough women in a society opt for this form of male-unnecessary reproduction, over a few generations there will be no more males in that society.

    I can see Gloria Steinem and others of similar political persuasion creating a female-only society somewhere with this technology. An estrogen utopia.

    I, for one, welcome our Lesbian overlords.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @02:25PM (#15699868)
      Except for when the technology breaks and there will be no man to fix it.
    • Heh (Score:4, Informative)

      by Silent sound (960334) on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @02:42PM (#15700019)
      Not so fast, it goes the other way too. Separate [washingtonpost.com] research [genet-info.org] is taking place in the meantime that involves turning donor cells into egg cells-- which would be the counterpart in fertility procedures to the artificial sperm procedure this article is about, and would also hypothetically make possible the conception of a baby with only males donating the biological material.

      When a news article about such research cropped up last year, I saw people on the internet worrying about a science-fiction type scenario where the development could lead to a world devoid of women.

      People get really paranoid about science...
    • I don't think sperm can be made from female stem cells, i.e. those without Y chromosomes. Without the genetical information from Y chromosomes, the cells would not know how to turn into sperm.
  • by susano_otter (123650) on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @02:17PM (#15699775) Homepage
    The sperm was created from embryonic stem cells... The hope here is to assist couples who are having difficulties with conception.


    So let me get this straight: you want to help a couple make a baby... by making a baby somewhere else, destroying it, harvesting its biological material, and using that material to make another baby, which you then give to the baby-challenged couple?

    I guess the big advantages to working for the Department of Redundancy Department is, you get double funding for everything, and there's always someone else around to do your work for you. But it does seem kind of wasteful, sometimes.
    • So let me get this straight: you want to help a couple make a baby... by making a baby somewhere else, destroying it, harvesting its biological material, and using that material to make another baby, which you then give to the baby-challenged couple?

      Where did you see a 'baby' originally? We're talking about stem cells.

      • Where do you suppose "embryonic stem cells" come from? (Hint: They come from an existing embryo, which is destroyed in the harvesting process.)
        • by larkost (79011)
          While the article summary does mention "embryonic stem cells", it looks like the ones that they are actually working on are "permatogonial stem cells" which exist in adult males, and are the differentiated stem cells that eventually produce sperm. The big news here is that they convinced these cells to further differentiate into (semi) viable sperm cells outside the body.

          The whole point of this research is to allow men who have viable "permatogonial stem cells" but have something wrong further along in the
          • Fair enough. I was mostly just riffing on the superficial absurdity of getting the baby you want by destroying the baby you have, as implied in the article summary.

            I also felt compelled to comment, on account of I find the essential creepiness of breeding our own kind for the purpose of harvesting them pretty fucking hilarious.
    • No. (Score:5, Informative)

      by Silent sound (960334) on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @02:27PM (#15699890)
      If you'll read the article, you'll see (emphasis mine):

      "If we understand this we can treat infertility in men."

      In the future, men with fertility problems might be able to have their own stem cells harvested using a simple testicular biopsy, matured in the lab and then transplanted back.
      They are using embryonic stem cells because of the benefits that embryonic stem cells offer over other stem cells when doing research. It is clear that once they can get the procedure working with embryonic stem cells in mice, the next step will be to get it working with non-embryonic stem cells.
    • I was thinking the same thing. Wouldn't it make more sense to harvest ADULT stem cells from the father's body to create sperm for his offspring rather than some other already fully formed embryo?

      This way the gentic material is his and not someone else's.

      Furthermore...you then get rid of the whole embryonic stem cell debate......unless.....of course....the whole idea was to get private money to blow... *shrugs*

    • The thing that annoys me is that they'd come up with a procedure that would cost many tens of thousands of dollars vs adopting one of the kids who is already here and needs parents, having sex, or going to a sperm bank. This much effort to add another person to a 6 billion+ population seems obscene.
  • by spyrral (162842) on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @02:17PM (#15699776) Journal
    Would this allow two females to produce an offspring together? Because that would be a species changing event for humanity.
    • by brianerst (549609) on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @03:09PM (#15700229) Homepage
      It doesn't appear that the technology in question would do that (the FA talks about spermatogonial stem cells, so presumably it requires biologically male embryos).

      An interesting meta-question is what might that (female-only reproduction) do to evolution? If we don't move into directed evolution (via DNA tinkering or selective abortion), how would having only female gametes change the rate of evolution? The reason that I ask is that male gametes are created at a fantastic rate, creating trillions of possible chromosomal mutations over the lifespan of a male. Female gametes, in contrast, are created at a very deliberate pace (either early on in the development of the ovaries, or, according to some more recent research, on-demand once a month from ovarian stem cells) - far fewer opportunities to screw up the copying and create a mutation.

      Look at the one chromosome that is male-only - the Y chromosome, the most stunted, bizarrely mutated one of the bunch. Lots and lots of changes occurred on that branch, and without female evolutionary "brakes", it nearly mutated itself out of existence.

      Would female-only reproduction cause a slowdown in genetic drift and mutation? Combined with the technological ability to modify our environment to minimize evolutionary pressures, this could keep humanity percolating at the homo sapiens sapiens level for a long time. An interesting point to ponder...

      • by Grishnakh (216268) on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @03:15PM (#15700271)
        Yes, it sounds like this could be a really good thing for humans, by stopping evolution cold and keeping mutations out. The problem with evolution is that it's actually a bad thing for humans, because while we still have mutations and such, we no longer use natural selection to weed out the bad mutations. Instead of just allowing sick people to die, we save them with medicine, and they reproduce, making more people with serious genetic diseases.
        • It would be a shame to let this comment die on the end of a deep thread. Mutations can help - I personally would like the one with the extra set of teeth coming in at age 40-42 as it would save me quite a bit in upcoming dental work. Nonetheless, the inability for humans to effectively cull the negative mutations is a huge burden for genetic optimization. Most mutations have a negative effect on a well-adapted organizm, and only a small fraction are positive. In our society, the model is breaking down, wi
  • by RobotRunAmok (595286) on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @02:18PM (#15699788)
    Why can't more rich, self-absorbed and childless yuppies want to go to Mars? Then maybe our space program would get that much needed shot in the arm...

    Damn.
  • by helicologic (845077) on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @02:22PM (#15699829)
    [...] The sperm was created from embryonic stem cells and implanted into female mice. [...] The hope here is to assist couples who are having difficulties with conception.

    How many couples really want to conceive a mouse, anyway?
  • Since congress has no balls, this research may just save us all...oh wait, its a kind of stem cell research? Never mind. We are doomed.
  • does it still taste salty?

  • NASCAR
    The Super Bowl
    Bowling Alleys
    Fart Jokes
    Fantasy Baseball

    Not to mention the drastic reduction in demand for the four "P's":

    Porn
    Poker
    Prostitution
    Power Tools

    Also, the third Sunday in June would henceforth become "My Other Mother's Day".

  • by Billosaur (927319) * <`wgrother' `at' `optonline.net'> on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @02:30PM (#15699928) Journal

    Are all the computer companies having trouble keeping up with the demand for new mice? Seems like a damned inefficient way to manufacture 'em if you ask me.

  • by argStyopa (232550) on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @02:33PM (#15699950) Journal
    I'm not convinced that 'helping infertile couples have children' is the ultimate rationale - is everyone ENTITLED to have children?

    I mean, is it so far fetched to believe that several million years of trial and error have produced a system of conception that is fairly fault-tolerant but will self-abort if a certain minimum level of viability is not achieved? And that short-circuiting this might not be in anyone's best interest - the parents', the child's, society's?

    So then we come in with near-godlike medical technology, and FORCE certain sets of gametes together which would otherwise fail? Am I the only one that has a moral problem with that?

    Personally, I'm a HUGE fan of the 'conventional' method of fertilization; if it works, great. If it doesn't, maybe there's a very good reason it doesn't.
    • In addition, when a couple cannot have children of their own, there are plenty of unwanted children available for adoption.

      Furthermore, how much do you want to bet that children produced this way will have difficulty conceiving themselves someday?

      Not to mention the fact that we already have enough children with breathing problems...
    • Yes, today's solution is tomorrow's problem. This is technology's yolk.

      But would you want to turn back the clock and live in a world with out the internet since it can cause identity theft? Live without calculus because it can lead to missles? Live without pennecilin because it can lead to resistant bacteria?

      Sure this technology will be abused like all others, but hopefully the ammoral yuppies that rely on it will also be bankrolling research that has benefits that far outweigh the problems and moral dil
    • [I]s everyone ENTITLED to have children?



      Is anyone entitled to tell anyone else NOT to???

    • Teriatary effects (Score:4, Insightful)

      by phorm (591458) on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @03:20PM (#15700316) Journal
      Well, there are quite a few people who are incapably or semi-incapable for medical rather than genetic reasons. They're born and develop perfectly able to reproduce, but do to accident. For example: getting hit in the nads too hard, or getting an inter-uterine infection, my mother was rendered incapable due to complications of a car accident (obviously after I was born).

      It's also a survival method. What if some new nasty disease or bacteria, etc, rendered a large portion of the human race largely incapable of reproducing naturally. It's always a good idea to have a backup plan... it's just a matter of not abusing the ability.
    • People are having kids later than they used to, often because women have their careers to consider, which wasn't an issue in the past.

      So, either you create a society where women can have kids young and still lead a fulfilling life (i.e. do what they want to do, either work or not) OR you create the technology to allow a higher percentage of women to have kids when they're older.

    • I'm not convinced that 'helping infertile couples have children' is the ultimate rationale - is everyone ENTITLED to have children?

      Some people [bbc.co.uk] are random and prolific producers of offspring while others can't produce a single child while trying purposefully for years.

      Who are you to make a moral judgement on who should not be helped?

      • Who are you to make a moral judgement on who should not be helped?

        That is NOT a moral judgement, it's common sense (or if you'd prefer - impersonally technical). No conception -> something's biologically wrong, possibly something with body plan/genetics -> even if conception is forced, there's a nonignorable chance that the children will have the same problem. Do YOU want to inflict that problems upon the children?

        It's not strictly related to TFA, but these days, it's hard to tell if corrective

  • Wonderful, so now lesbian couples can have male-free baby...mice.

    So the race is on, will women replaced men with test-tubes, or will men replace women with robots?

    http://times.hankooki.com/lpage/200605/kt200605041 7203910160.htm [hankooki.com]

    After two divorces from two unfaithful wives, and 20 years of raising two children who might or might not be my genetic progeny, I say - lets just clone ourselves and convert to Stepford wives.
  • Sad (Score:4, Insightful)

    by fish_in_the_c (577259) on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @03:34PM (#15700455)
    As can be seen by several post here this is sad news, it is degrading to males.
    It is also degrading to babies.

    Such technology is degrading to human beings.
    It treats procreation as being nothing more then a biological process.
    It makes something that should be held as a honor and a privilege ( being a parent )
    into a commodity bought and sold in the laboratory.

    When you reduce procreation to a commodity you reduce people to being a commodity.
    Honestly this kind of technology is evil for the same reason slavery is evil.
    people are not a commodity.

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