Scientists reported human sperm cells have been grown in a lab for the first time. Kallistem, a company in Lyon, France, said it has successfully transformed scraps of genetic material into fully functioning sperm. This discovery could eventually lead to a treatment for infertile men.
The Kallistem laboratory, a private research center, said it would be able to carry out clinical trials on human subjects within two years. If the procedure works, the firm hopes to treat as many as 50,000 patients a year.
The research hasn’t been published, reviewed or verified, and British experts were skeptical about the breakthrough announced Friday. Kallistem said it had transformed basic male fertility cells, spermatogonia, into mature sperm cells in test tubes.
“Kallistem is addressing a major issue whose impacts are felt worldwide: the treatment of male infertility,” Isabelle Cuoc, the company’s CEO told the Daily Mail Friday.
“Our team is the first in the world to have developed the technology required to obtain fully formed spermatozoa [sperm] in vitro with sufficient yield for IVF.
"This is a major scientific outcome that enhances both our credibility and our development potential.”
Cuoc added the lab is “targeting a global market worth several billion euros in which there are currently no players.”
Kallistem wants to show the procedure will be safe for humans in preclinical trials, which will begin in 2016. If the preclinical trials are successful, the company said it will be able to assist the birth of an infant during testing.
Kallistem said it can remove a sample of immature spermatogonia from a male subject and then transform the genetic material into mature sperm to be used in IVF procedures. The sperm can also be frozen for use later.