Male infertility is a major problem worldwide, but the latest research may hold out a cure to this.
Although most infertility problems currently relate to women, 40% are male related. But Japanese scientists believe they have found a solution; they have managed for the first time to grow artificial sperm in the laboratory using mice stem cells; it took around 10 weeks the sperm to develop.
The test sperm were then implanted in the testes of male mice, re-extracted and used to fertilise female eggs. The fertilised eggs were then injected into a female mouse who acted as a surrogate. Healthy mice were reproduced.
Stem cell research is a relatively new approach to the development of human tissue. Although controversial, it is nevertheless producing some startling results in many areas of medical research. Since infertility is now approaching epidemic proportions in some parts of the world, notably India, hopefully this breakthrough will become an accepted treatment in the not too distant future.
Stems cells are effectively the basic code of the body. As such, it makes sense to many scientists to start using these cells for regenerative purposes; particularly those suffering from diseases such as cancer.
As far as male infertility is concerned, the research opens up new ways to increase levels of sperm production, and even develop sperm in men who currently can’t produce any at all.
Hopefully, the controversial nature of the research will be overcome, giving hope to millions of people worldwide, although the legal and ethical issues surrounding stem cell research are likely to continue.