from Texas Public Radio by Wendy Rigby –
Infertility can be heartbreaking for many couples struggling to have their own biological children. Some scientists at the University of Texas at San Antonio are trying to understand the mystery of male infertility. And they’re conducting their research one cell at a time.
In a lab at UTSA, a rectangular box about the size of a toaster is yielding incredible data.
It’s a single cell RNA sequencer, one of many machines Brian Hermann, Ph.D., is using to study the genesis of male infertility.
Brian Hermann, Ph.D. and doctoral student Lorena Roa can study thousands of individual cells quickly with the help of cutting edge technology at UTSA.
“Single cell RNA seq allows us to examine all the genes that are expressed in any given cell,” Hermann explained. “So we can look at anywhere from hundreds to thousands and tens of thousands of individual cells.”
The cells he’s looking at are from the testicles of mice serving as a model for a human problem: a lack of sperm. Sperm producing cells come from stem cells, but somewhere along the line for an increasing number of men, there’s a problem in the formation of those cells, some developmental process that perhaps is going awry.