Lab-generated sperm created at Israeli university

Researchers at Ben-Gurion Univeristy built a 3D model and tested it on young mice. After 5-7 weeks, sperm cells in the process of developing were discovered.

Sperm (illustrative) (photo credit: INGIMAGE)
Sperm (illustrative)
(photo credit: INGIMAGE)

Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) researchers have developed a means of creating sperm cells in a laboratory – marking a potential breakthrough in the fields of fertility and reproductive science. 

How did they do it, and what did they find? 

The BGU research, which was published in the peer-reviewed journal Biofabrication, had researchers develop a procedure for culturing testicular cells in an environment that closely resembled a natural one.

Located in Beer Sheba, BGU is renowned for its research departments across medical and scientific fields.

Researchers built a 3D model and tested it on young mice who were not yet capable of producing sperm – and after 5-7 weeks, sperm cells in the process of developing were discovered in the model, marking the success of the experiment.

“This system may also serve as an innovative platform for examining the effect of drugs and toxins on male fertility"

Prof. Mahmoud Huleihel, BGU's Faculty of Health Sciences

"This study opens up a new horizon in the process of creating sperm cells in a culture," says study co-author Prof. Mahmoud Huleihel from BGU's Faculty of Health Sciences. "It enables the implementation of microfluidic-based technologies in future therapeutic strategies for infertile men and in the preservation of fertility for children undergoing aggressive chemotherapy/radiotherapy treatments that may impair their fertility in puberty.” 

CANCER PATIENTS sit in a chemotherapy ward while receiving treatment at the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital in Accra, Ghana, in 2012qq (credit: OLIVIER ASSELIN/REUTERS)CANCER PATIENTS sit in a chemotherapy ward while receiving treatment at the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital in Accra, Ghana, in 2012qq (credit: OLIVIER ASSELIN/REUTERS)

Why is this a breakthrough?

Children with cancer who receive aggressive chemotherapy are among the cohorts that may lose their fertility in the future. Preserving fertility among these children and treating infertile men are issues that concern many researchers around the world – and led to the BGU study’s advancement. 

“This system may also serve as an innovative platform for examining the effect of drugs and toxins on male fertility," Huleihel added.