Human sperm cells have been artificially created for the first time, offering hope to thousands of men with low sperm counts or who have been left infertile by cancer treatment.
Artificial sperm … the research gives hope to thousands of men with low sperm counts, or who have been left infertile by cancer treatments
German scientists said fully-functioning sperm cells could be manufactured within five years to use in in-vitro fertilisation.
Scientists took samples from the bone marrow of volunteers and isolated stem cells known as mesenchymal cells, which were then treated with vitamin A to transform them into primordial germ cells – the first stage in sperm production. Some were then further developed into advanced spermatagonial stem cells.
Prof Karim Nayernia, who carried out the research and is now studying how to make spermatagonial cells enter the final stage of development, said: "We are very excited about this discovery, particularly as our earlier work in mice suggests we could develop the work even further.
"If we could solve this problem, and I think it is possible, the next stage will be to produce functional sperm."