Reproduction and Fertility is an open-access, peer-reviewed journal
Page URL:

Scientists grow sperm from human bone marrow

16 April 2007
Appeared in BioNews 403

Scientists have claimed success in growing immature sperm cells from bone marrow, which they hope to employ in fertility treatments within five years. Professor Karim Nayernia, and his team from the Universities of GÅ¡ttingen and the Medical School of Hanover, took stem cell samples from the bone marrow of male volunteers. Usually the samples would be developed into cells that form part of muscle tissue, but in this case the scientists induced them to develop into spermatogonial cells, which would ordinarily become mature sperm cells. The findings are published in Gamete Biology: Emerging Frontiers on Fertility and Contraceptive Development.

Professor Nayernia, now at the North-east England Stem Cell Institute, hopes that the process could be used to assist men rendered infertile by cancer treatment. He said: 'We are very excited about this discovery. Our next goal is to see if we can get the spermatogonial cells to progress to mature sperm in the laboratory and this should take around three to five years of experiments'.

The UK Government's proposed fertility white paper may prevent Professor Nayernia's goal being achieved, since it proposes a ban on using artificially created sperm or eggs in assisted reproduction. However, other scientists have expressed doubt over the research findings. Professor Henry Moore, of the Centre for Stem Cell Biology at the University of Sheffield, urged caution. He warned that manipulating stem cells could cause permanent genetic changes, making the sperm cells unsafe to use in fertility treatments. Professor Moore commented that 'this is a fast moving field but we are still many years away from developing any therapies for infertility using such techniques'.

Professor Nayernia also claimed to have evidence that it would be possible to grow sperm cells from female cells, stating that it had been possible to do so with mice. Professor Robin Lovell Badge, of the National Institute of Medical Research, London, discounted this claim, on the grounds that women's chromosomal makeup was incompatible with making sperm. Professor Lovell Badge also said that there were 'several misleading statements' in Professor Nayernia's paper. Josephine Quintavalle of Comment on Reproductive Ethics, CORE, said of the research paper: 'There is far too much hype in this paper. As to growing sperm from women? As any A-level biology student would question, 'where are they going to get the Y chromosome from?''

Sperm made from human bone marrow
BBC News Online |  13 April 2007
Women may be able to grow own sperm
The Daily Telegraph |  14 April 2007
23 September 2019 - by Dr Nicoletta Charolidi 
A study in mice suggests that bone marrow-derived stem cells may play a role in establishing pregnancy...
8 August 2011 - by Dr Lux Fatimathas 
Scientists in Japan have successfully generated viable sperm cells from embryonic stem cells in mice. The sperm cells were able to fertilise eggs and for the first time this produced healthy, fertile offspring...
17 July 2006 - by Dr Anna Smajdor 
The success achieved by Professor Karim Nayernia et al in obtaining offspring from 'artificial sperm' has been widely reported over the past week. The research may shed light on the complex developmental processes involved in gamete formation. It has also been suggested that in the future, therapeutic cloning in conjunction...
17 July 2006 - by Professor Ian Craft 
Research into establishing the mechanisms that control normal sperm production in mice and which may later allow a better understanding of why some men are infertile, has recently been reported in the UK press, with great accolades about the promise it may bring in the treatment of male infertility. However...
17 July 2006 - by Heidi Nicholl 
Scientists have for the first time managed to create sperm from mouse stem cells capable of fertilising eggs and resulting in live births. A team led by Professor Karim Nayernia, now Professor of Stem Cell Biology at Newcastle University, began with mouse embryonic stem cells (ES cells)which...
14 November 2005 - by BioNews 
Human eggs and sperm derived from embryonic stem (ES) cells could become a reality in the next five to ten years, says Professor Harry Moore, of the UK's Sheffield University. Other scientists think it could be even sooner, according to a report in the Observer newspaper. The issues arising from...
20 June 2005 - by BioNews 
BioNews reporting from ESHRE conference, Copenhagen: Human embryonic stem (ES) cells may be capable of growing into egg and sperm cells in the laboratory, UK scientists say. Behrouz Aflatoonian, part of a team based at the University of Sheffield, told the annual conference of the European Society of Human Reproduction...
to add a Comment.

By posting a comment you agree to abide by the BioNews terms and conditions

Syndicate this story - click here to enquire about using this story.