Tree of Eden

Scientists claim sperm ‘first’ – BBC NEWS Health

Posted in Uncategorized by T.Salami on July 8, 2009

Scientists in Newcastle claim to have created human sperm in the laboratory in what they say is a world first.

The researchers believe the work could eventually help men with fertility problems to conceive.

But other experts say they are not convinced that fully developed sperm have been created.

Writing in the journal Stem Cells and Development, the Newcastle team say it will be at least five years before the technique is perfected.

They began with stem cell lines derived from human embryos donated following IVF treatment.

The stem cells had been removed when the embryo was a few days old and were stored in tanks of liquid nitrogen.

The stem cells were brought to body temperature and put in a chemical mixture to encourage them to grow. They were “tagged” with a genetic marker which enabled the scientists to identify and separate so-called “germline” stem cells from which eggs and sperm are developed.

The male, XY stem cells underwent the crucial process of “meiosis” – halving the number of chromosomes. The process over creating and developing the sperm took four to six weeks.

This research also raises ethical issues. Josephine Quintavalle from Comment on Reproductive Ethics (Corethics) said: “This is an example of immoral madness. Perfectly viable human embryos have been destroyed in order to create sperm over which there will be huge questions of their healthiness and viability.

“It’s taking one life in order to perhaps create another. I’m very much in favour of curing infertility but I don’t think you can do whatever you like.”

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