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Grow a pair: Lab-grown testicles tackle infertility treatment

Date: 19.2.2024 

Researchers have created lab-grown testicle organoids that closely resemble the real thing. The breakthrough provides a promising model for research that may advance our understanding of the organs' development and translate into therapeutic applications for male infertility.

Kredit: Stopel et al. (2024), International Journal of Biological Sciences.Organoids, lab-grown 3D mini-organs derived predominantly from stem cells, have opened up new ways to model the organs they mimic, including research into disease states and the testing of therapeutic agents. Over the past decade, we’ve seen miniature brains, hearts, lungs, stomachs, and colons that have increased in complexity and functionality. Currently, though, there is no organoid for modeling the testicles.

Researchers at Bar-Ilan University, Israel, have changed that, growing testis (that’s the word for a single testicle) organoids from neonatal mouse cells that generate structures resembling real-life testes.

“Artificial testicles are a promising model for basic research on testicle development and function, which can be translated into therapeutic applications for disorders of sexual development and infertility,” said Nitzan Gonen, the study’s corresponding author.

In future, the researchers plan to produce organoids using human samples. A testicle organoid produced from human cells could, for example, help children being treated for cancer, which can impair their ability to produce functional sperm. They envision harvesting immature sperm cells that are frozen and later used to create a fertile sperm-producing organoid.

Image source: Stopel et al. (2024), International Journal of Biological Sciences.




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