Scientists have proved the possibility of «cosmic» conception of children

© Photo : Wakayama et al. / PNAS 2017Космические mice born through sperm from ISSScientists have proved the possibility of «cosmic» conception of children© Photo : Wakayama et al. / PNAS 2017

. Japanese biologists successfully raised a healthy baby mice using sperm that had been stored aboard the ISS frozen for nearly a year, according to a paper published in the journal PNAS.

«If mankind will begin to live in space, we need technology to freeze semen and store it for a long time. The problem is that the radiation levels on the ISS to 100 times higher than on Earth. We have shown that although radiation damages the DNA of sperm, it does not affect the viability and fertility of the offspring,» write Sayaka Wakayama (Wakayama Sayaka) from the University of Yamanashi and her colleagues.

High level of radiation in open space, as they say scientists, is today one of the main dangers to human life and a major obstacle to turn us into a «cosmic view.» The biggest threat that radiation poses to germ cells, which need to pass through several phases of division before they become ready for fertilization.

The first experiments on the reproduction of insects, fish, sea urchins and other animals, conducted onboard the ISS, showed that there is nothing preventing procreation in weightlessness, however, in mammals such experiments have not been conducted. In addition, experiments to assess the viability of the offspring was not carried out in principle because of the technical impossibility to breed hundreds of mice or other animals on Board the station at the same time.

Wakayama and her colleagues solved this problem by sending to the ISS non-living rodents, and the frozen stocks of sperm, which are held aboard the station for about nine months and then was returned to Earth in may 2014.

The researchers then used these samples of genetic material for fertilization of the eggs, implanted them into the wombs of surrogate mothers and saw how «quality» was the offspring. In parallel, the researchers compared the DNA structure in the «space» of the spermatozoa and their normal «cousins» that had lain frozen in the Earth the same amount of time.

As shown by these experiments, a long stay in space did affect the quality of sperm, making it more susceptible to mutations. This effect was not significant – all «space» mice were born as healthy as their earthly cousins, and they suffered approximately from the same diseases that individuals in the control group. When they grew up and left offspring, the number of mice was about the same as their earthly peers, had never flown into space.

Similar to the results of experiments, as scientists believe, suggests that a long stay in space should not greatly interfere with the prospects of procreation, and that frozen eggs and sperm that are stored on Board space stations or ships, can be successfully used to sustain human populations in space.

In addition, stocks of these frozen genetic material, according to the Wakayama and her colleagues, it is possible to create on Earth to protect the human race from extinction and his quick recovery after a possible fall of a meteorite or man-made disasters.

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