WHAT’S BEING CLAIMED:
- A healthy Rhesus macaque named Grady is the first among primates that was born from sperm taken from frozen testicular tissue in a study published in Science.
- The study was undertaken to give young cancer survivors the chance to be able to preserve their fertility which is usually reduced while undergoing cancer treatments like chemotherapy and radiation.
- Of the 138 fertilized eggs, only 11 embryos matured, but only one monkey successfully carried to pregnancy to term.
According to a new study published today in the journal Science, a baby monkey was produced from sperm extracted from a sample of frozen testicular tissue.
If this undertaking can be done in humans, it would definitely give hope to young children to preserve their fertility as they undergo cancer treatments.
Chemotherapy drugs and radiation that help childhood cancer patients survive can eliminate the stem cells that produce sperm. While adults can bank their sperm, younger children who haven’t reached puberty can’t because their testicles aren’t making sperm. Although one measure to preserve fertility is freezing testicle tissue to be used to generate sperm when cancer survivors are ready to have children, this hasn’t been tested yet in humans.
In their efforts to help young cancer survivors produce their own offspring in later life, as well as find out if freezing testicle tissue can actually create a healthy baby, researchers carried out a test on monkeys. The result? A healthy baby Rhesus macaque named Grady.
Using five different monkeys, the team, which was led by University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine professor Kyle Orwig and postdoctoral researcher Adetunji Fayomi, removed one testicle from each and froze them.
After five months where the monkeys underwent chemotherapy, each monkey’s remaining testicle was removed. Tissues from the fresh and frozen testicles were transplanted into the backs and scrotums of the monkeys.
As the months went, the grafts grew and testosterone levels climbed to normal levels. After eight months to 1 year, the transplants were taken out, examined and pulverized to retrieve live sperm. Live sperm successfully extracted from one of the frozen transplants was shipped to the Oregon National Primate Research Center. Out of the 138 eggs the center successfully fertilized, only 11 embryos matured which was later implanted into the monkeys’ uteruses.
Only one monkey carried a successful pregnancy to term and gave birth to Grady.
“You can’t believe how proud I was. It was a big undertaking that took us a lot of years. We produced a baby in a way that nobody has ever produced a baby before,” says Orwig after meeting Grady when she was only a few weeks old.
Although there are still major questions to answer and a whole lot to work on before this can be tested in humans, Stanford Medical Center urology professor Michael Eisenberg who was not involved in the research thinks the study results are really amazing and can potentially help a lot of young boys.
Source: The Verge