Wednesday, 08 Jul, 2009 Science
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Researchers Grow Sperm in Laboratory Conditions - Are Men Doomed?

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The latest scientific breakthrough could mark the end of men. Researchers managed to artificially grow sperm in laboratory conditions from stem cells. In case additional tests show that the sperm grown in the lab are really the same as the natural sperm, the breakthrough could be used to treat people suffering from infertility so they could conceive a baby genetically their own.

Besides the lab-grown sperm could help single women and allow children, conceived using donor sperm, trace their biological fathers.

It is worth mentioning that stem cells are able to replicate any cells in the body, scientists being able to replace injured bones and tissue.

The latest research was carried out by Prof Karim Nayernia from Newcastle University and the North-East England Stem Cell Institute and his team.

Independent scientists ask for more evidence. Robin Lovell-Badge, for example, who studies sperm formation at the UK National Institute for Medical Research in London says: "Although they find that some of the sperm cells have tails and can swim, this is not evidence of normality."

According to Prof Nayernia, the breakthrough "will also let scientists study how cells are affected by toxins." He added: "We can understand that some people may have concerns, but this does not mean that humans can be produced in a dish and we have no intention of doing this."

Researchers performed their experiments on mice. In 2006 they combined normal eggs with mouse sperm and created 7 mouse pups, which, however, died in just five months. At the moment Nayernia and his team are performing tests that would help determine whether the same thing happened with the human sperm. The researcher managed to solve the problem with mice - he inserted spermatogonial cells into mouse testes before they grow-up. The scientist states that for humans he created "artificial testes" to do a similar job. More information about Prof Karim Nayernia can be found on the website of Institute of Human Genetics .

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