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Growing Sperm

Published: April 26, 2011

Japanese researchers have announced that they have created sperm cells from scratch.

In a breakthrough with huge future applications, scientists in Japan have grown sperm cells from testes of baby mice. The immature cells were nurtured in a biochemical bath and after growing to maturity, viable sperm were extracted. The proof of their viability came when they were used to inseminate female mice to produce healthy pups.

If this technique can be transferred to human cells – and researcher Takehiko Ogawa is confident it can be – then infertile men who are unable to produce sperm may be helped. In addition, patients with testicular cancer could have a sample of their cells frozen for later culture increasing the odds of subsequent fatherhood even if chemotherapy causes sterility.

This is a story to keep an eye on.