The development means infertile men may be able to father their own children, rather than using a sperm donor, as DNA is taken from the candidate’s germ cells.
The germ cells are found in the testicles, and are responsible for sperm production.
Researchers in Germany and Israel, headed by Professor Stefan Schlatt, at Muenster University in Germany, made the discovery after growing mouse sperm in a laboratory dish.
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.”
The findings of the sperm trial have been revealed in the Asian Journal of Andrology, a major scientific journal published by Nature.
Indicating a revolution in fertility treatment, it is hoped the discovery will lead to the ‘holy grail’ of human sperm being grown outside a man’s body.
Stephen Gordon, a leading NHS male infertility consultant, described it as an “amazing development”.
“Infertile men naturally want to be the father of their child but at present have to accept that can’t happen. With the mouse discovery, that could now be a possibility.”
Sperm counts in men has decreased over the past 50 years, which is attributed to environmental factors such as pollution and female hormones appearing in plastic packaging.
Scientists have attempted the procedure carried out the mice, on human cells. So far it has been without success, but Professor
Huleihel remains optimistic.
“We are experimenting with a number of different compounds to get the germ cells to grow into sperm. And we believe it will be possible. And, hopefully, soon.”