A French startup research firm is claiming to have developed the first in-vitro human sperm, according to the New York Post. If the sperm work, this will be one of the biggest breakthroughs in infertility treatments since over a decade ago.
Though the announcement of the discovery was originally made earlier in the year, the team at the Kallistem research firm released the first real data on the sperm. Researchers at Kallistem worked with French government lab CNRS to describe how the sperm are meant to help treat universal infertility problems.
According to Kallistem, the sperm are developed from immature cells called spermatogonial cells. These cells are present in all members of the male sex, including boys who have yet to experience puberty. Under normal conditions, spermatogonial cells develop into sperm cells once they begin puberty.
”The two scientists, already knew, by using testicular tissue, how to isolate seminiferous tubules without damaging them,” says CNRS in a press release. The seminiferous tubules are where the spermatogonial cells are developed.
The research team then developed a bioreactor, using “using chitosan, a natural substance present in the cell wall of fungi or produced from chitin, a component in crustacean shells.” This was meant to reproduce the conditions of a human male testicle. Before testing the human sperm cells, the researchers tested with rat cells, and then the cells of a young monkey.
There are a variety of different infertility issues that affect millions of men and women across the globe. Approximately one-third of infertility is attributed to the female partner, one-third attributed to the male partner, and one-third by a combination of problems with both partners. With the newly developed in-vitro sperm, Kallistem hopes to help thousands of patients receive IVF treatments.
The research team believes that the new technology can help treat issues that affect 15,000 cancer patients and 120,000 worldwide. However, these patients will have to wait a little longer before the sperm technology can be used, as additional clinical testing must be done.