Lab grown sperm provides fertility hope

Sperm has been successfully grown in a laboratory, providing infertile men with new hope of becoming biological fathers

Scientists from Japan have successfully managed to create lab grown sperm using fragments of testes bathed in nutrients.

The research team described sperm production as one of the most complex processes in the human body, taking a month from start to finish.

Dr Allan Pacey, a senior lecturer in andrology at the University of Sheffield, says the developments will lead to a better understanding of infertility, but maintained: ‘It is important to be cautious because sometimes species-specific differences in biology means that what works for one species does not work for another.’

The team from Yokohama City Universityused fragments of mouse testesto developed sperm, which they then used to fertilise eggs from which healthy, fertile young were born.

‘I want to apply our method to other species including humans,’ says Dr Takehiko Ogawa. ‘The sperm produced in our system should be safe.’

Dr Pacey said the success in mice was no guarantee that it could be matched in humans, but agreed: ‘This study is a small but important step in understanding how sperm are formed which may, in time, lead to us being able to routinely grow human sperm in the laboratory.’

Marco Seandel and Shahin Rafii from Weill Cornell Medical College in New York said that the approach represents a crucial experimental advance along the thorny path to the clinical use of sperm developed in the laboratory.’

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