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Lab-Made Mouse Sperm Gave Hope To Male Infertility

Update Date: Feb 27, 2016 08:08 PM EST
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A Chinese-led study by researchers from Nanjing Medical University reportedly produced the world's first lab-created sperm from stem cells and used them to breed healthy mice raising hopes for treating infertility in men.

How did they do it?

According to a report by Quartz, stem cells extracted from mice embryos were exposed to a cocktail formula of select chemicals triggering a differentiation process that make them either sperm or eggs. The exposed cells were then placed near the testosterone causing them to acquire sperm-like attributes. These sperm-like cells were then injected in a mouse egg to form an embryo then later transferred to females to produce healthy offspring. Such offspring then reproduce a second generation of healthy mice.

What are the implications of the study?

"Our method fully complies with the gold standards recently proposed by a consensus panel of reproductive biologists, so we think that it holds tremendous promise for treating male infertility. If proven to be safe and effective in humans, our platform could potentially generate fully functional sperm for artificial insemination or in vitro fertilization techniques," remarked co-senior author Jiaohao Sha as quoted by Medical News Today.

While scientists welcome China's breakthrough in reproductive biology, they warned that it will take some time before lab-produced sperm cell will become a viable infertility treatment due to a number of constraints such as ethics, legality, and safety.

"There's no question that the technique needs to be improved further, but if we can build on this as a technique...it really is going to change the way we think about...infertility. The crucial question is whether someone else going to be able to replicate the study, and if that is the case then it really will revolutionize assisted reproduction as we know it. All the IVF clinics would be likely to hop on it, although in my opinion that would be very premature," said Terry Hassold of Washington State University's Center for Reproductive Biology as reported by The Guardian.

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