A Good Year for Sperm

The "bot" version of sperm? (Photo courtesy Melobit.com)
The “bot” version of sperm? (Photo courtesy Melobit.com)

You know about what happened to oil prices last year. And you know about the Paris and San Bernardino shootings. There was also the marriage equality ruling by the Supreme Court and the Baltimore protests. All newsworthy by any measure. But did you know that it was also a big year for sperm?

  • What’s in the head of these wigglers is a big source of human evolution and may be the key to autism, schizophrenia and other issues in kids.
  • If you look closely at the epigenetic “marks” on sperm DNA, you might be able to tell which are “fertile” and which are not.
  • Bionic sperm has arrived. German scientists developed “spermbot,” (? derived from robot) a metal-fence, micromotor that wraps around the sperm tail, and can help slow-swimming sperm find its egg.
  • Ok it’s not sperm, but way too cool to let this go: The first successful penis transplant from one man to another performed. And it worked! A veritable Frankenpenis.
  • The French announced the creation of human lab-grown sperm. Fact or fiction, your decision.
  • Sperm gene therapy. Take a skin cell from a genetically infertile man and turn it into a stem cell. Then, add back a missing gene from the Y chromosome and see if you can turn that stem cell into a sperm precursor cell. The stuff of dreams? Hardly, we got pretty close to doing this this year.
  • Making new “junk.” Dr. Anthony Atala, a world-class regenerative medicine guru, has grown miniature human testicle “organoids” to one-day help injured soldiers.
  • Scientists from Hawaii (imagine the view from the lab!) showed us that only 2 little genes are needed on from the mouse Y chromosome to make sperm. Maybe men aren’t complicated as we thought!

For better or worse, the year 2015 has come and gone. In my little corner of the world, it was a BIG year for sperm, those silent, steadfast, microscopic, manic soldiers of our fortune.

Dr. Paul Turek, Medical Contributor

View posts by Dr. Paul Turek, Medical Contributor
Dr. Paul Turek is an internationally known thought leader in men’s reproductive and sexual health care and research. A fellowship trained, board-certified physician by the American Board of Urology (ABU), he has received numerous honors and awards for his work and is an active member in professional associations worldwide. His recent lectures, publications and book titles can be found in his curriculum vitae.
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