24th March 2011
Scientists have managed to create sperm cells in the laboratory for the first time - boosting hope for infertile men that they will one day be able to father children.
The new research, published in the journal Nature, has shown that neonatal mouse testes can be used to create healthy sperm cells that can then be used to generate healthy offspring.
While only achieved in an animal model, the Japanese research has sparked widespread interest in the future of fertility treatments.
The researchers urged caution, claiming that the science was still in its early stages and not applicable to other species, but suggested the new method could have great potential.
"Our organ culture method could be applicable through further refinements to a variety of mammalian species, which will serve as a platform for future clinical application as well as mechanistic understanding of spermatogenesis," they wrote.
Recently, the Office for National Statistics published data showing that fertility in the UK remains high - despite a slight fall since 2008.
Posted by Philip Briggs
1 Sato, Takuya et al. "In vitro production of functional sperm in cultured neonatal mouse testes". Nature. Wednesday, March 23rd 2011.
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