A New Way to Reproduce - MIT Technology Review
Let’s call him B.D., because that’s what his wife does on her infertility blog, Shooting Blanks. Several years ago, the 36-year-old learned he was azoospermatic. It means his body makes no sperm at all.
During a recent phone interview, I could hear his wife in the background. She is 35 and facing what she describes as a terrifying countdown toward a life with no children. “Being childless can’t be my destiny, it just can’t be,” she wrote on her blog.
So far, B.D.’s case of infertility has proved untreatable, despite years of pills, vitamins, and a major surgery. But he may still have a long-shot chance at being a father. In 2012, B.D. traveled to Stanford University, where a technician performed a skin punch, removing a small disk of tissue from his shoulder. With a technique called “reprogramming,” his skin cells were converted into stem cells that have the potential to mature into various types of human cells. These were then transplanted into the testicles of a mouse. Would the stem cells take cues from their environment and form sperm? Two years later, when the scientists announced what they had found—evidence of primitive human reproductive cells—the provocative findings made the national news.