The scientists successfully created mouse sperm in the lab, then used the cells to fertilise mouse eggs using in-vitro-fertilisation (IVF), producing healthy and, most importantly, fertile offspring. These offspring went on to successfully reproduce naturally, reports The Independent.
“We established a robust, stepwise approach that recapitulates the formation of functional sperm-like cells in a dish. 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,” Jiahao Sha, a researcher at the university said.
This study has been used to re-inforce the notion that embryonic stem cells from a man’s skin cells can be used to make human sperm and fertilise, via IVF, a woman’s eggs to make healthy and fertile children – a huge step in treating infertility.
While many past studies have claimed to be able to create sperm cells using embryonic cells, this study is the first to “conform to an agreed sequence of verifiable events to lead to the birth of healthy offspring”.
Sha added that if the study, published in the journal Cell Stem Cell, is proved to be safe and effective for humans, it would mean that a fully functional sperm for artificial insemination or the various IVF techniques could be generated. This could exponentially increase the success rates for men struggling with fertility issues.
“This is exciting research that may represent a possible avenue in the longer term. However, establishing safety along with reproducibility will be the key before it can be considered as an option,” Professor Simon Fishel, president of the Care Fertility Group in Nottingham, said in a statement.