London: Scientists have succeeded in growing sperm in test tube for the first time, potentially opening the way to curing male infertility, and young boys undergoing chemotherapy for testicular cancer may now be able to father their own children as grownups.
The sperm was produced in a test tube from cells taken from a newborn mouse testicles and then injected into eggs to produce 12 healthy babies, four male and eight female, able to reproduce themselves in adulthood.
Takehiko Ogawa, urologist at Yokohama City University in Japan, said the production of sperm in the testes is one of the most complex processes in the body, reports the Telegraph.
It has never been reproduced in a test tube in mammals before. The researchers achieved the feat by providing most of the cellular components found in the testicles in a dish and watched as the stem cells grew into sperm cells.
They then used IVF (in vitro fertilisation) techniques to produce male and female offspring that were themselves fertile.
"The obtained sperm resulted in healthy and reproductively competent offspring," said the researchers, whose findings were published in Nature.
Ogawa and colleagues said: "We have demonstrated that the organ culture conditions, without circulatory systems in vivo (in the living body), can support the complete spermatogenesis (sperm production) of mice."