In what is being hailed as a potential breakthrough in the treatment of male infertility, a team of researchers from a private French research center has grown human sperm cells in a laboratory for the first time ever.
While the findings have yet to be published in a peer-reviewed journal, scientists at the Kallistem laboratory in Lyon have allegedly turned spermatogonia into mature sperm in a test tube – doing something that researchers have been trying to do for 15 years, according to Discovery News.
Kallistem plans to conduct pre-clinical trials next year. If those trials are successful, they will be able to take an immature spermatogonia sample from a man, change that genetic material into mature sperm, then either use it for IVF or freeze it for later use.
Don’t get your hopes up quite yet
While the facility believed that the process could be used to treat up to 50,000 patients annually, earning them more than $2.5 billion in profits, the fact that their claims have not yet been either peer reviewed or independently verified has led to some skepticism, the Daily Mail said.
Kallistem CEO Isabelle Cuoc told the UK publication that the company “is addressing a major issue whose impacts are felt worldwide: the treatment of male infertility. Our team is the first in the world to have developed the technology required to obtain fully formed spermatozoa [sperm] in vitro with sufficient yield for IVF.”
She went on to call their discovery “a major scientific outcome that enhances both our credibility and our development potential.” However, University of Sheffield professor and male fertility expert Allan Pacey told the Daily Mail that childless couples looking to find a way to have a baby of their own should not get too excited over the firm’s claims just yet.
“Until I see a peer-reviewed scientific publication showing unequivocally that this has been done, I have to remain skeptical,” he told the newspaper. “Claims like this can often cause heartache for infertile couples who see them as hope only to have their hopes dashed later when it doesn’t translate into an available procedure.”