Sperm frozen in space produce healthy mouse pups

first_imgMouse pups born from sperm stored on the International Space Station for 9 months.  Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country Sperm frozen in space produce healthy mouse pups By Katherine KorneiMay. 22, 2017 , 3:00 PM Country * Afghanistan Aland Islands Albania Algeria Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia, Plurinational State of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote d’Ivoire Croatia Cuba Curaçao Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guatemala Guernsey Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and McDonald Islands Holy See (Vatican City State) Honduras Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq Ireland Isle of Man Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jersey Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People’s Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Moldova, Republic of Monaco Mongolia Montenegro Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island Norway Oman Pakistan Palestine Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Qatar Reunion Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Martin (French part) Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Sint Maarten (Dutch part) Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands South Sudan Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syrian Arab Republic Taiwan Tajikistan Tanzania, United Republic of Thailand Timor-Leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of Vietnam Virgin Islands, British Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwe If NASA wants to send humans to Mars, it will probably also send along an unusual provision for the interplanetary journey: sperm. A diverse supply of human sperm could ensure the genetic diversity of a new colony, which is critical to a healthy population. But no one knows whether the reproductive cells could withstand the ravages of DNA-damaging radiation in space. Now, a new study shows that mouse sperm stored for more than 9 months on the International Space Station (ISS)—where radiation levels are roughly 100 times higher than on Earth—can produce healthy, fertile mouse pups.“This work is enormously important,” says Steven Peck, a biologist and bioethicist at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, who was not involved in the research.Researchers led by Teruhiko Wakayama, a biologist at the University of Yamanashi in Kofu, Japan, sent freeze-dried sperm from 12 mice to the ISS in 2013. Astronauts placed the samples in a freezer at –95°C, where they remained for 288 days. On Earth, the team stored sperm from the same mice at the same temperature for the same amount of time.center_img S. Wakayama et al., Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 114, 21 (23 May 2017) © 2017 National Academy of Sciences Email When the space-faring samples were returned to Earth, Wakayama and his colleagues looked for signs of DNA damage caused by radiation. As expected, the ISS sperm exposed to the higher levels of space radiation near the station exhibited more fragmented DNA than the Earth-bound sperm. This DNA damage, which would have been impossible for the frozen cells to repair, has been associated with lower levels of fertility. But when the scientists injected the space sperm into fresh mouse eggs that they transferred into surrogate mothers, they were in for a surprise. Roughly 3 weeks later, the females gave birth to 73 “space pups,” about as many as they would have expected from normal sperm, the team reported today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. That’s the first time such an experiment has been done for any mammalian species, Wakayama says.The mice sired from the experimental sperm were fertile and healthy, and there were no obvious genetic differences between the space pups and their control brethren, Wakayama and his colleagues showed. The study suggests that the DNA damage was repaired after fertilization, and that it has “no ultimate effect” on the offspring, the team writes.That’s good news for the space pups, but also for the many human astronauts who have gone on to become parents after spending time in space. But there’s still a lot to do before astronauts start packing for Mars, the team notes. Scientists need to study sperm from other mammalian species held in space for longer periods of time. They also need to conduct studies in more realistic deep-space conditions, says biophysicist Francis Cucinotta of the University of Nevada in Las Vegas, who was not involved in the research. “The most damaging radiation is found outside the Earth’s geomagnetic shielding,” far beyond the orbit of the ISS, he says. “There are much higher risks in deep space.” Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*)last_img

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