Scientists create stem cells without embryos (10/11/2008)
pluripotency, stem cells, sperm precursor cells

Researchers from the Wolfson CARD Laboratory at King's are working in collaboration with the University of Tübingen, Germany on a study, published in Nature this week, to show that pluripotent human stem cells can be generated without requiring human embryos

The generation of human embryonic-like stem cells from biopsies of the adult male testes may however provide simple and non-controversial access, not currently available to individual cell-based therapy, without the ethical and immunological problems associated with using human embryonic stem cells.

Dr Stephen Minger, Head of the Stem Cell Biology Laboratory who led the research at King's comments on the finding: 'The work by the group from Tubingen is really outstanding. They have managed to generate cells that mimic embryonic stem cells in every way that we examined.'

The research project, which involved scientists from King's used 22 different samples taken either from biopsies or from medical castrations. From these, they extracted a type of cell called the 'sperm precursor cell' - a type of adult stem cell with a fixed role - to become a sperm cell. These were then manipulated chemically in the laboratory into a state more similar to cells found in the embryo, which can go on to produce all the cell types in the body.