Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Lab-grown sperm

A variety of solutions exist for severe male factor infertility. Depending on its severity, it can be as simple as concentrating the good sperm cells and injecting them straight to the uterus (at the correct time in the woman's cycle) using a process known as IUI. Or... if only a small amount of normal sperm cells can be found - IVF (in vitro fertilization) is combined with ICSI (intracytoplasmic sperm insertion). And then, when no sperm cells are found at all, there are surgical procedures in which sperm cells are aspirated directly from the testicles (this too is combined with IVF-ICSI). But what happens when there aren't any sperm cells and all attempts to remedy the situation have failed? The couple is faced with several options - adoption, donor sperm, or deciding to stop trying to conceive.

For many years, there's been talk of growing sperm cells in a lab. Today, I came across an article that discusses successful attempts at growing mouse sperm cells from germ cells - in a lab. And, as always, I was looking for the Israeli angle - and I found it more easily than expected. A team of Israeli researchers at Ben-Gurion University headed by Professor Mahmoud Huleihel successfully replicated the results in their own lab. Way to go! I hope to hear more about this in the future, especially when it is able to help an infertile couple achieve their dream of having a biological child.