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Scientists Close in on Artificial Sperm

Presently, the only means by which IVF patients suffering from certain types of male-factor infertility and lesbian couples can achieve a pregnancy is sperm donation. This, however, might change, thanks to the efforts of specialists from Cambridge University, who are working on creating artificial sperm.

Scientists have already created a healthy litter of mice from sperm produced from stem cells back in 2016, but until now attempts to replicate these results with human stem cells proved elusive – while cells visually resembled sperm, they lacked the capability to fertilise oocytes. The main issue was the time it took germ cells to develop into sperm cells (via a process called meiosis): approximately 8 weeks in humans compared to only 13 days in mice.

British experts, however, believe they’re halfway to solving the problem. To facilitate the process of turning stem cells into sperm, researchers used “gonadal organoids” – tiny artificial testes made from lab-grown gonadal cells. These testes provide the stem cells with appropriate biological clues necessary for them to develop into sperm cells, including going through a vital process called “erasure” during which environment-related parental DNA alterations are stripped away.

The researchers have so far gotten halfway through the process – to 4 weeks and the initial signs look encouraging. They cannot, however, at this stage, guarantee with 100 per cent certainty that the experiment will be a success. According to project head Prof Azim Surani, it is vital to ensure that all the processes occur as they would with natural sperm production for artificial sperm to be useful.

And while clinical applications are still some distance away, experts hope that someday the new technology will help alleviate the sperm shortage affecting many Western countries. For example, UK’s National Sperm Bank has been shut down having received just 7 donations in the two years; the average waiting period for a sperm donation in the country is 20-28 months.

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Compass Fertility, based in Canberra, Australia, is lead by Dr. Nicci Sides and offers a boutique style of care, tailoring to the individual FERTILITY needs rather than standard protocols, something that is not offered elsewhere.

Fertility First is based in Hurstville, half an hour’s drive from Sydney CBD. Lead by Dr. Anne Clark, the first specialist in Australia to receive CREI qualification, Anne and the team provide a holistic approach to treatment, with continuity of care throughout your journey.

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Repromed Clinic is one of the country’s leading fertility clinics, delivering excellence in their standard of care, innovation, and pregnancy success rates. It is the only IVF clinic in South Australia to offer a complete range of care tailored to your needs, support, and fertility treatment options, onsite at their Dulwich purpose-built facilities.

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Our clinic in Penrith is a full service clinic offering Fertility expertise to anyone in and around Greater Western Sydney, including: Springwood, Glenbrook, Mount Druitt, Erskine Park or Luddenham. Monash IVF Penrith comprises a multi-disciplinary team of Fertility Specialists, Fertility Nurses, Scientists, Counsellors and Patient Coordinators, meaning everything is right on your doorstep.

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