In this 'Brave New World' fact is truly becoming stranger than fiction.
In a first-ever, scientists have announced the creation of artificial human sperms from a source far removed from its origins. Stem cells derived from human bone marrow are now the new ‘fathers’ of immature sperms, which the scientists hope can eventually be worked upon to benefit infertile men.
The extraordinary development, which until a few years ago belonged in the realms of science fiction, raises hopes that infertile men may one day be able to father their own biological children.
The sperm were created in a test tube, from stem cells derived from a five-day-old male embryo. The advance raises ethical questions over the safety of the procedure and the threat it poses to the future role of men. It was also challenged by experts who claimed the sperm-like cells produced in the experiment were not genuine sperm.
If the finding is confirmed, a single male embryo could, in theory, yield a stem-cell line which when stored could provide an unlimited supply of sperm. Once the stem-cell line was established, there would be no further reproductive need for men. In a briefing on the research, the scientists at Newcastle University and the NorthEast England Stem Cell Institute, led by Professor Karim Nayernia, raise the question of whether their discovery means "the end of men" or the man becoming God?
The stem cells from which the sperm were made could only be derived from a male embryo – one containing a Y (male) chromosome – so at least one male would be required.
Three years ago, Professor Nayernia led scientists at the University of Gottingen in Germany who became the first to produce viable sperm from mouse embryonic stem cells which were used to produce seven live offspring. However, the baby mice died shortly after birth.
The latest discovery is a further step on the way to finding a cure for male infertility.