February 23, 2012

Growing Sperm from Germ Cells

Scientists at the Institute of Reproductive Medicine in Munster, Germany recently reported on their ability to grow mouse sperm from germ cells.  For men with azoospermia (zero sperm), this technology may, in the future, permit germ cells from a man’s testicle to produce sperm for fertilization.  Currently men with no sperm in either the ejaculate or in a testicular biopsy proceed with use of donor sperm.

It is important to point out that the technology is not being used in humans today and will likely be several years before its routine clinical use in humans and IVF centers.  As evidence of time required furthering these techniques, the initial publication on germ cell transplantation occurred in 1997.  The recent publication describes placement of male germ cells in a soft agar and methylcellulose matrix.  After several weeks in culture and with addition of gonadotropin hormonal support, morphologically normal spermatozoa were embedded in the matrix substance.  It is important to point out that ability or functionality of these mice spermatozoa to produce offspring has not been confirmed, again requiring further time and research.

For further information, the recent publication can be found in the Asian Journal of Andrology advance online publication. Click here for more info.

 

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Medical Director,

Medical Director, Fertility Centers of New England