A team of reproductive biologists from the United States and Japan has succeeded in fertilizing rabbit oocytes with "dead" freeze-dried rabbit sperm. The fertilized eggs continued to develop into embryos, some of which were transplanted into female rabbits.
The researchers---from the University of Connecticut, the University of Hawaii, and Hirosaki University---note that rabbit sperm share many similarities with human sperm, so their results suggest that the freeze-drying technique could be used to preserve sperm from humans and many other animal species.
Previously, only freeze-dried sperm from mice had been shown to support embryo development. Mouse sperm, however, are significantly different from sperm of most other mammals because they do not contribute a cellular organelle known as a centrosome to the fertilized oocyte. The question remains whether the centrosomes in rabbit sperm survive the freeze-drying or whether centrosomes are not essential for embryos of mammals to develop.
Dr. Xiangzhong Yang | EurekAlert!
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