The United States is actively working to restore the ability to reproduce in soldiers who have previously been injured and consequently lost their testicles and/or some other part of their reproductive systems, and government scientists believe that stem cells will be the key to growing fully functional testicles in labs.
About a month ago we brought you news that the U.S. Government was working to bring a revolutionary penis replacement surgery to soldiers who had been injured in the line of duty. Today I’m stoked to share news with you bros that the U.S. Government is working with stem cells to grow testicular tissue (in lab) that would then be surgically implanted into patients, eventually restoring full testicular function.
By using a few millimeters of damaged tissue, doctors can extract testicular stem cells which can then be used for growing a miniature testicle. It’s almost microscopic, but the testicle has all the capabilities of producing sperm normally. Inside the organ, immature sperm cells are created with the help of testosterone, gather toward the center and then mature with the help of “nurse” cells that create functioning sperm.
“The future plans are to grow the testicular tissue, expand the cells and put it back into the patient,” said Dr. Anthony Atala, director of the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine. “But for a whole testicle, there is a very rich blood-vessel supply and that’s the challenge. We can make them small, but we’re working hard to make them larger.”
In the past 2.5 years the military and government have devoted over $300 million to transplant research, research that includes limbs and facial transplants as well as the aforementioned fertility research. From what it I’ve read above it sounds like the scientists at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in North Carolina are making huge headway in this field, and have already produced a fully functional testicle using stem cells inside of a lab. Unfortunately the testicle was roughly the size of a pinhead, but it’s certainly a promising result for the field as a whole.
Just how important is this research for our soldiers? via VICE:
This would be the first time, though, that doctors would use stem cells to create an entirely new and viable testicle which has the capability of conceiving a child without in vitro fertilization (IVF).
Unfortunately for our soldiers who want this surgery today, good science takes time. The researchers working to restore testicular function in our soldiers don’t believe that this will be a fully viable option for roughly another decade, but as is the case with most ground breaking medical procedures everything could change with one major breakthrough. So keep your fingers crossed for our soldiers.