Researchers in Germany have grown mouse sperm in a lab dish from just a few germ cells — the ones that produce sperm — by simulating the natural testicular environment. The breakthrough has given hope to infertile men who currently depend on sperm donors for reproductive possibilities and is being heralded as the first step towards regular human sperm generation.
The Telegraph reports:
Professor Mahmoud Huleihel, who also grew the sperm at Israel’s Ben Gurion University in Beersheba, said: “I believe it will eventually be possible to routinely grow human male sperm to order by extracting tissue containing germ cells from a man’s testicle and stimulating sperm production in the laboratory.”
Experts explain that because the sperm created was not genetically damaged and was completely “usable,” the next step is to incubate human sperm cells under the skin of a mouse for use in in-vitro fertilization, of course once they can convince folks that there will be no mouse cells present in the sperm that could affect the embryos.
One reporter called the results of this experiment “Frankensperm,” which made me wonder if the ability to just churn out human sperm could mean the end of men or even some strain of authentic humanity. I’m all about scientific advancement, especially when it comes to reproductive breakthroughs, I can’t shake the image of the main character from the super-ridiculous 80’s B-movie Ratboy. I’m sure the idea of lab sperm will one day become as common as in-vitro itself (remember when “test tube baby” was an insult?) but it’s going to take folks a long time to be sold on the concept of making babies with mouse-incubated sperm.
What do you think?