Human sperm cells have been successfully created in the laboratory for the first time by using an artificial bioreactor. This is a breakthrough in infertility treatment sought for more than a decade since no one had been able to complete the complicated process of sperm maturation in vitro.
Researchers based at a French national research institute in Lyon had announced this discovery previously, but they and government lab CNRS explained the process for the first time on Sept. 17 after taking out a patent on it.
Scientists have managed to complete spermatogenesis in vitro, a process taking place in the male testes in vivo, which leads the immature germ cells to become mature spermatozoa fully competent to fertilize. They succeeded this by developing a bioreactor using a viscous fluid, made partly of substances found in the walls of mushrooms, to mimic the in vivo conditions.
Scientists claim that this achievement promises to succeed in helping young men with cancer that caused them fertility issues later in their lives and adult men who cannot make their own sperm. About 15,000 men are made sterile due to cancer treatments and other 120,000 suffer from untreatable infertility. They explained that their fertility could be preserved by developing mature human sperm from their immature cells, then freezing it. The team hopes to be able to treat patients as soon as 4 years.
Even though trials have been reportedly successful on rat, monkey and human sperm cells, the lack of further details on the process has other scientists feeling skeptical. They look forward to the publication of the study so that to be able to discuss details of the research with the team and reveal the full mechanism through which such a process was accomplished in vitro.
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