Scientists in Germany and Israel have made a major breakthrough that could lead to human sperm being grown in the laboratory, the website The Telegraph is reporting.
The scientists have grown mouse sperm from a few cells in a laboratory dish, a development that opens up the possibility of infertile men being able to father their own children rather than using donor sperm.
The scientists, headed by Prof. Stefan Schlatt, at Muenster University in Germany, grew the sperm by using germ cells. These are the cells in testicles that are responsible for sperm production. The sperm was grown by surrounding the germ cells in a special compound called agar jelly to create an environment similar to that found in testicles.
Prof. Mahmoud Huleihel, who also grew the sperm at Israel's Ben Gurion University, said: "I believe it will eventually be possible to routinely grow human male sperm to order by extracting tissue containing germ cells from a man's testicle and stimulating sperm production in the laboratory."
The findings of the sperm trial have been revealed in a major scientific journal published by Nature.
Now the scientists have begun experiments that will hopefully lead to the Holy Grail - human sperm grown outside a man's body.
Stephen Gordon, a leading NHS male infertility consultant, said, "This is an amazing development that could revolutionize fertility treatment and allow every man to be a natural father.
"Infertile men naturally want to be the father of their child but at present have to accept that can't happen,” Prof. Richard Sharpe, one of the United Kingdom’s leading fertility scientists, who hopes to work on the project, said. “With the mouse discovery, that could now be a possibility. This is a significant step forward towards making human sperm."
The problem of male infertility has grown over the past 50 years amid a huge decrease in sperm counts in men.
—TOM HESTER SR., NEWJERSEYNEWSROOM.COM