In what appears to be something out of Mary Wollstonecraft’s Frankenstein; or The Modern Prometheus book. French researchers on Thursday revealed they had successfully created human sperm from stem cells harvested from infertile men.
The scientists have already patterned the method they used in creating the sperms, but they say they have not tried using the sperms to fertilize a human ovum. The researchers say their work is a step in the right direction towards tackling the problem of male infertility. Although, they admitted their work is still several years behind before they manufacture “quality” sperms.
The researchers had to recreate the same environment that exists within the seminiferous tubules (the structures with the human male’s testes that form sperms) outside the human body.
The compress is said to be complex and takes about 72 hours to complete. The resultant sperms are also said to be “morphologically normal” (normal-looking), but it has not yet been established if they are up to the task of creating babies.
Before giving a trial to create human babies, the researchers first want to use the same process with rat sperms and try fertilizing rat ovum with the resultant manufactured rat sperms.
One of the project members, Philippe Durand, while talking to journalists said, “We must see if the baby rats are normal, whether they are able to reproduce.”
The researcher will also embark on a series of tests to compare the manufactured sperm with the normal human sperms before they begin trials on fertilizing human ovum with these sperms.
The scientists’ work has also not been validated through the publication in their peer-review science journal. The team says their work “opens the way for therapeutic avenues that have been eagerly awaited by clinicians for many years… From a testicular biopsy in these infertile men, the scientists will be able to obtain spermatozoa in vitro.”
Their enthusiasm about their breakthrough is not shared across the medical science fraternity. Nathalie Rives, an infertility expert cautioned: “We are not there yet… Before this technique can find any practical application, it must be proven to work with (cells) from the testes of prepubescent boys and men who have trouble generating sperm.”