TECH
23/09/2015 14:50 BST | Updated 23/09/2015 17:59 BST

Scientists Claim To Have Grown Mature Sperm Cells In The Lab

Researchers from Lyon, France have made a rather bold claim, stating that they have created fully mature sperm cells in the lab.

The experiment conducted by biotech start-up Kallistem, reportedly took immature sperm cells from six men, who were infertile, and placed them in a bioreactor.

And the end result they said, was a "meaningful amount of mature sperm that could be of use clinically.”

sperm

If their claims hold up to the scrutiny of a peer reviewed journal, it will be a medical breakthrough that gives a number of infertile men the opportunity to have their own biological children.

“We have completed spermatogenesis – the production of mature sperm cells – in vitro using a bioreactor. We have done it in three different species, rat, monkey and human, which has never been done before,” team's leader Dr Philippe Durand told The Independent.

“The mature sperm were made by taking small biopsies from the testes of the men, and culturing these cells in the bioreactor until they developed into fully mature sperm which look identical to those produced naturally in the testes of men," he added.

However, details about the underlying biology that allows this magical process to take place are scant and this has caused experts to question the validity of the results.

"If they have done it, then it is potentially huge. The question is whether they have genuinely done it," Allan Pacey, Professor of Andrology at The University of Sheffield, told The Huffington Post.

The Kallistem team are not the first to attempt creating artificial sperm in the lab in the hopes of providing a solution to male infertility.

"In 2009 there was a claim from a scientist from Newcastle University, that turned out to have a lot of holes," Pacey said.

"I was quite sceptical and I was quite critical."

While there is huge demand for the kind of results the startup boast of, the scientific community remain deeply skeptical about its validity.

"Instead of publishing the results in a peer reviewed journal they've gotten ahead of themselves," a spokesperson from The British Fertility Society told The Huffington Post.

"There's no way we can comment on the biology, based on the information we have...they're essentially saying they have 'A' and put it in a magic machine and out popped out 'B'"

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According to Male Infertility Network UK, a patient-focused organisation, male infertility is an issue that doesn't get enough attention.

Up to 15 percent of couples are infertile reports the Mayo Clinic, and male infertility plays a role in up to half of these couples.