There were reports about sinking fertility rates worldwide in the research fraternity earlier this month. To combat infertility, researchers at California’s School of Medicine are now working on a method to culture lab-grown human sperm cells.
Crux of the Matter
Falling Fertility Rate?
Researchers at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington have estimated in the study, that 25 countries including Spain and Japan, would have their populations halved by the end of this century.
What Is This Fertility Rate?
The rate is the number of live births a woman gives during her reproductive age. 70 years ago, women were giving birth to an average of 4.7 children.
The findings of the study showed how the global fertility rate nearly halved in 2017, before predicting its fall below ~1.7 by 2100. This means the worldwide population would rise to 9.7 billion around 2064 before declining to 8.8 billion by 2100.
Covid-19 Can Reduce Fertility?
It should be emphasized [that] spermatozoa have a demonstrable capacity to carry viral infections from the male to the female reproductive tract, as happens during the sexual transmission of the mosquito-borne disease Zika.Dr. John Aitken, Researcher
As per a study, published JAMA, a medical journal of the American Medical Association, 15% of semen samples collected had the presence of the novel coronavirus.
Covid-19 in human sperm apparently leads to a build-up of angiotensin II, which is a hormone that regulates kidney function and blood pressure. Increased levels of this hormone cause an immune response against the invading virus particles, which in turn increases the availability of reactive oxygen species that causes sperm cell death.
New Age Stem Cell Therapy
The known solution to this problem in the scientific community has been the Spermatogonial Stem Cell (SSC) therapy. This is an approach that transfers sperm stem cells to a test tube, wherein they are cultured and turned into fully-fledged sperm cells.
In a new breakthrough, Scientists at the UCSD School of Medicine, the US have developed a potential method for culturing sperm stem cells in the lab, that would match with the characteristics of human SSCs.
How Was It Done?
Using a technique called single-cell RNA sequencing that uncovers the existence of rare cell types within a given sample of the cell population.
This helped the team analyse and define the possible molecular characteristics specific to human SSCs. SSCs can generate up to 1,000 sperm cells every couple of seconds.
What Can Be Done Next?
According to Miles Wilkinson, Ph.D., Professor in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynaecology and Reproductive Sciences, and senior author in the study, this technique has the capability to become popular in clinics, in the near future.
They just need to interpret more about the right conditions needed to culture SSCs into sperm cells that could be used for infertility treatments safely.
- Sperms were first observed in 1677 by Antonie van Leeuwenhoek using a microscope. Leeuwenhoek is commonly known as “the Father of Microbiology”, and one of the first microscopists and microbiologists.
- The Medical Council of India (MCI) is a statutory body for establishing uniform and high standards of medical education in India till the formation of the National Medical Commission. The current President of MCI is Dr. Jayshreeben Mehta.
- A flagellum is a lash-like appendage that protrudes from the cell body of certain bacteria and eukaryotic cells termed as flagellates. Propulsion of single cells such as the swimming of sperms is by flagellum. The word flagellum in Latin means whip.