Monday, 27 April 2009

Good news for infertile couples: And now scientists create sperm in test tube

By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad: Couples with male infertility need no longer go in for sperm borrowing from strangers to bear children. Thanks to an ongoing research by a team of city-based doctors on invitro culture of testicular tissue using stem cell culture techniques, infertile men without any sperm production can now reproduce offspring.
Fertility doctors at Mahavir Hospital and Research Centre and Owaisi Hospital and Research Centre have succeeded thus far in artificial culture of testicular tissue in infertile men with non-obstructive Azoospermia (nil sperm count). The pioneering research work, which started about six months ago, is in the final stages of success. The work was presented at an international conference on infertility held in the city on September 3.
"We will be able to fertilise ovum with the sperm obtained through stem cells in a couple of months," Dr Roya Rozati, who is supervising the research, told this correspondent.
Doctors in South Korea are doing a similar research but using human embryonic stem cells and since research on human embryos is banned in India, the Mahavir-Owaisi team has taken up work on testicular tissue. A team of researchers in the USA have successfully carried out stem cell research using testicular tissue of mice. It is yet to be experimented on human beings there.
The city doctors have selected 10 infertile men for the research to develop sperm from spermatogonial stem cells, which can be used to fertilise eggs and enable infertile men to overcome infertility problems. They also wants to establish culture methods to expand cell lines of spermatogonial stem cells.
"After producing sperm we will go for intra cytoplasmic sperm induction process to help infertile men bear children," Dr Roya pointed out. This methodology besides opening new avenues of basic research into spermatogenesis and stem cell self-renewal may also prove as a useful tool for biomedical science and biotechnology.
Sperm stem cells could be removed from a donor, cultured to increase their numbers, frozen, and then re-implanted back into the donor (or another male) at a future date. These sperm stem cells have the "potential" of serving as a source for more versatile adult stem cells to replace diseased or injured tissue.
here is a threshold of quantitative sperm production in the deficient testis, below which no sperm will reach the ejaculate (azoospermia). This threshold phenomenon of spermatogenesis is the reason that many cases of non-obstructive azoospermia sperm can often be extracted from testicular tissue of azoospermic men with germinal failure, and used successfully for ICSI.
Men with non-obstructive azoospermia caused by germinal failure have a mean of 0 to 3 mature spermatids per seminiferous tubule seen on a diagnostic testicle biopsy. This compared to 17 to 35 mature spermatids per tubule in men with normal spermatogenesis and obstructive azoospermia.

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