Hope for infertile men as scientists grow test-tube sperm

Last Updated: Thursday, March 24, 2011 - 00:00

London: Japanese scientists have accomplished a feat thought to be impossible — for the first time, they have produced fertile mammalian sperm in a test tube.

The technique holds significant promise for male infertility, reports Nature.

Biologists have been trying to make sperm outside the body for almost a century.

So, a team led by Takehiko Ogawa of Yokohama City University designed a way to culture sperm and allow them to mature outside of the body.

They found that the key to getting sperm through meiosis lay in a simple change to standard culture conditions.

Ogawa and his colleagues took tissue fragments from neonatal mouse testes to mature.

They then soaked the testes tissue in a mixture called KnockOut Serum Replacement, often used to grow embryonic stem cells.

To track sperm development, they used a fluorescent protein that marked cells undergoing — or that had undergone — meiosis.

After several weeks in the mix, the testes looked normal and were producing sperm. Nearly half of the samples contained cells with sperm-like tails.

Finally, the researchers injected the sperm into egg cells. A few weeks later, surrogates delivered a dozen live, fertile offspring.


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First Published: Thursday, March 24, 2011 - 00:00

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