According the Daily Telegraph, researchers in Germany and Israel have grown viable mouse sperm in a lab, which begs the question of how soon the new technique used can be used to grow human sperm on demand. Once perfected, donor sperm will be a thing of the past.
Creating the right environment
Professor Stefan Schlatt of Germany’s Muenster University and a team of German and Israeli scientists from Ben Gruion University in Beersheba, Israel, have successfully grown mouse sperm cells in a controlled laboratory setting. This was accomplished by surrounding mouse germ cells with agar jelly, to create an environment similar to that of the testicles.
“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,” said Prof. Mahmoud Huleihel of Ben Gruion.
The results of the mouse sperm trial have been published in the scientific journal Nature.
Infertility consultants rejoice
Infertility consultants like Stephen Gordon of England’s National Health Service are excited over the implications of the study for human sperm production.
“This is an amazing development that could revolutionize fertility treatment and allow every man to be a natural father,” he said. “Infertile men naturally want to be the father of their child, but at present have to accept that can’t happen. With the mouse discovery, that could now be a possibility.”
Male sperm count on the decline
Various environmental factors such as pollution and the presence of female hormones in plastic packaging of food products have contributed to a global drop in male sperm count, experts have noted. As a result, instances of male infertility have grown. Even modern microsurgical techniques can’t help all men, making sperm donors vitally important.
However, if scientists are able to build on the findings of the mouse sperm study, donors may no longer be needed.
“We are experimenting with a number of different compounds to get the germ cells to grow into sperm. And we believe it will be possible. And, hopefully, soon,” said Huleihel.
One of the ways this may happen is by using a live mouse as a host to make human sperm, notes the Daily Telegraph. Such a procedure would have to be licensed and shown to be safe for the animal before it would be permitted in the U.S. and most nations.
Mice and stem cells
Daily Telegraph: http://tgr.ph/wMFrPp
The Raw Story: http://bit.ly/yZ5l8J
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