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Lab-grown sperm could spell hope for infertile men

Men suffering from infertility could one day father biological children using sperm grown in a test tube

Posted: 24 March 2011
by Kimberley Smith
Lab-grown sperm
There may be hope for cancer sufferers whose treatment leaves them infertile

Test-tube sperm may soon offer the chance for infertile men to father their own biological children. Scientists have discovered a way of growing sperm from testicular cells that can fertilise an egg.

Testicular tissue was taken from mice and grown into sperm using a complicated combination of proteins and other foods under laboratory conditions. The sperm was then used to fertilise eggs using IVF. From this, 12 baby mice were born.

The technique also worked on tissues that had been frozen, raising the hope that boys needing fertility-harming cancer treatment at a young age could use the process to have their own children later in life.

It is currently illegal in the UK to use lab-grown sperm for conception. But experts welcome the development, which may lead to more understanding of infertility in men.

“There have been several attempts to create or 'grow' animal sperm in the lab,” said Dr Allan Pacey, a fertility expert from Sheffield University. “However, none have been wholly successful. This could help discover new drugs or treatments to stimulate infertile men to produce more or better sperm. It also may help preserve the fertility of some males.”

Trying for a baby? Make sure your man’s getting his fertility-boosting nutrients and if you’re struggling to conceive, find out what test both you and your partner can take to determine any potential problems.

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