Breakthrough in Male Infertility?

January 11th, 2012
Breakthrough in Male Infertility?

There has been a potential breakthrough in male infertility research. Medical scientists from Ben-Gurion University, Israel and the University of Muenster, Germany, operating in a joint venture have managed to grow sperm in the laboratory.

While solving the infertility problem in men is likely still to be some years away, this new research does seemingly point to a better understanding.

Cells were taken from the testes of young mice, which were subsequently grown successfully into mouse sperm using a special nutrient-rich jelly in a 3D environment. This environment apparently is much closer to reality than previous attempts. However, extrapolating these results onto humans is only in the very early species.

One of the main reasons scientists are not overemphasising the research is because it is dangerous to suggest that because the techniques have worked successfully in mice, that they will automatically work when dealing with human beings.

That said the results are nevertheless promising.

What is different from this and previous attempts to grow sperm in the laboratory?

It seems that in the previous scenarios, sperm was grown on a flat surface (also called 2 dimensional). However, in real life, sperm is not created this way. In the new design a 3 dimensional approach was tried using a soft agar jelly called SACS. It is said this represents a more ‘normal’ environment.

The findings showed that after 30 days, the cells had switched on relevant genes, in turn manufacturing the relevant proteins allowing the sperm to develop. This process is called meiosis.

Microscopic analysis also showed out of 16 specimens, 11 appeared normal mouse sperm.

So, although infertile men should not get their hopes up that this will solve their problem in the near future, the research is promising and if perfected, trials of human sperm creation could well take place sooner rather than later.

 

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