How Sequencing Sperm Could Help Fight Cancer

A new technique used to sequence the genome of single sperm cells for the first time could pay dividends by making in vitro fertilization more reliable and even aiding cancer research. 

What's the Latest Development?


Scientists at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York have achieved the first genetic comparison of individual sperm cells, revealing their complexity by using medical techniques that could benefit other areas of research. By using a microfluidic chip to sequence the genome of individual sperm, the team could diagnose recombination problems, "which are thought to be one of the causes of male infertility." Stanford University's Jianbin Wang, who led the research, said: "Previous studies have shown that too much or too little recombination can cause infertility. This is a way to find out if recombination is a problem." 

What's the Big Idea?

It turns out that analyzing the genes of individual cells is a very difficult process and that techniques developed to sequence sperm cells could benefit other areas. The procedure could be used to improve in vitro fertilization by screening females' eggs for genetic diseases, as well as by aiding cancer research. 'Every cancer is slightly different,' said Adam Auton of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. "If researchers can study single cells from a tumour, they may be able to get a better idea of which genes have been disrupted by mutations, and develop treatments to target them, he says."

Photo credit: Shutterstock.com

LinkedIn meets Tinder in this mindful networking app

Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.

Getty Images
Sponsored
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.

No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.

Keep reading Show less

In a first for humankind, China successfully sprouts a seed on the Moon

China's Chang'e 4 biosphere experiment marks a first for humankind.

Image source: CNSA
Surprising Science
  • China's Chang'e 4 lunar lander touched down on the far side of the moon on January 3.
  • In addition to a lunar rover, the lander carried a biosphere experiment that contains five sets of plants and some insects.
  • The experiment is designed to test how astronauts might someday grow plants in space to sustain long-term settlements.
Keep reading Show less

10 science photos that made history and changed minds

These photos of scientific heroes and accomplishments inspire awe and curiosity.

Surprising Science
  • Science has given humanity an incalculable boost over the recent centuries, changing our lives in ways both awe-inspiring and humbling.
  • Fortunately, photography, a scientific feat in and of itself, has recorded some of the most important events, people and discoveries in science, allowing us unprecedented insight and expanding our view of the world.
  • Here are some of the most important scientific photos of history:
Keep reading Show less

Love in a time of migrants: on rethinking arranged marriages

Arranged marriages and Western romantic practices have more in common than we might think.

Culture & Religion

In his book In Praise of Love (2009), the French communist philosopher Alain Badiou attacks the notion of 'risk-free love', which he sees written in the commercial language of dating services that promise their customers 'love, without falling in love'.

Keep reading Show less