Monday, 29 February 2016
Lab-grown sperm could help treat infertility
A new breakthrough could take us one step closer to growing sperm in a lab and treating male infertility
Sperm has been grown in a lab and used to create offspring for the first time – and it could be great news for male fertility.
Scientists in China have managed to coax mice stem cells into sperm cells and use the cells to fertilise female mice using IVF. The mice produced healthy, fertile babies, who then went on themselves to mate and have offspring naturally.
The process could eventually be available for infertile men if it’s found to be safe and effective in humans and could create fully functioning sperm for use with artificial insemination or IVF.
There’s currently no effective treatment for male infertility and donor sperm is usually the only option. Using this treatment, men could have the chance of having their own biological children.
Around 15 per cent of couples are infertile, and a third of the problems can be traced to men.
The procedure will be tested on primates before moving to human trials, and there will be ethical considerations to take into account, but it could be great news for couples struggling with fertility.