Did You Know Sperm Can Be Developed in a Lab? It’s Possible

In a development that may someday help men facing infertility, Chinese scientists have just announced they were able to create sperm in a lab petri dish using embryonic stem cells from mice. The sperm was used to fertilize mouse eggs using in vitro fertilization (IVF), creating healthy babies that went on to have their own offspring. That’s promising.

Embryonic stem cells can actually develop into any type of cell in the body and have previously been used to create sperm. However, in the past, transforming such cells into sperm required the cells to be transplanted into the testicles of mice. The new technique represents an advance as the sperm was able to develop in a lab dish containing testicle cells.

According to study results in the journal Cell Stem Cell, mouse sperm was used to fertilize mouse eggs and of 379 eggs injected, nine babies resulted. After 15 months, all mice appear healthy, and they’re having their own offspring.

While the sperm developed in the lab is a primitive type, not fully mature, known as spermatids, they still contained their full genetic component and were sufficient to fertilize eggs. Spermatids have been used to create healthy human babies in Japan, while some countries have outlawed the procedure.

A number of scientists interviewed about the study results expressed excitement for how the work — making sperm outside the body — could aid research into basic sperm development and eventually help infertile men. Some Japanese researchers questioned the results suggesting that others have “struggled to replicate similar claims.”

For all mammals, making sperm in the testes is one of the longest and most complicated processes in the body, taking more than a month. In this research, an embryonic stem cell was used and “guided towards becoming sperm —> Read More