Growing sperm? Yup, which is good news for guys dealing with fertility problems related to sperm production.
Researchers in Germany and Israel have been able to grow mouse sperm from a few cells in a laboratory dish and believe this same technique will eventually work in humans. Scientists are calling "test tube sperm" a major breakthrough that could lead to infertile men being able to father their own children, rather than using donor sperm.
To grow the sperm, researchers first extracted germ cells, the type of cell that reproduces, and placed them in a petri dish surrounded by a special jelly to create an environment similar to that found in testicles. As sperm developed, researchers noted that sperm cells in the dish were healthy, and structurally the same as normal mouse sperm.
Are mice really predicting the future of male fertility treatments? "I believe it will eventually be possible to routinely grow human male sperm to order by extracting tissue containing germ cells from a man's testicle and stimulating sperm production in the laboratory," says Professor Mahmoud Huleihel, an Israeli researcher involved with the study (via the New York Daily News).
The next step for this new wave of research is to try the technique with human germ cells to create human sperm. "It has taken us several years to reach this stage so a technique to create human sperm won't come overnight," Heleihel tells the Daily News. "But we have started that research already after our success with mice."