Sterility: the sperm in laboratory

A new technology allows production of sperm from testicle cells: the first tests will be in 2017.

The biotechnologists from the French company Kallistem have succeed to produce for the first time human sperm in laboratory, using a tissue from an infertile individual. The technique is not yet patented and it is not yet submitted to a peer review (the primary method of scientific revision), but according to the scientists it is about a decisive step forward for compensating the male infertility, including the one that comes with particular therapies (for e.g. the chemotherapy).

The method developed by the biotech allows the use of biological material taken from seminiferous tubules, a part of the male reproduction in which, starting from the puberty, takes the spermatogenesis, i.e. the maturation of the germ cells.

The tissues are immersed in a chitosan gel (an organic chemical compound) and successively stored for 72 days in bioreactor, where the treatment with nutrients, vitamins, hormones and growth factors are stimulating the genesis of the sperm.

The technique, patented as Artistem, has been presented only few days ago, although the Kallistem worked for some time with the National Center of Scientific Researches (CNRS), the primary organization for public researches in France.

The biotechnologists Philippe Durand and Marie- Hélène Perrard have underlined that the in vitro method generates ‘morphologically normal’ sperm, but they are not yet proved that are functional. The first clinical studies should start in 2017, because, as we know from Kallistem, for getting a permission to fertilize an egg cell with the ‘artificial’ sperm are needed more answers for the questions, not just the ethic question.