Globally, close to 14% of all human beings are infertile, which means they can’t have babies. This can be a devastating realization of adulthood, but now a technological cure promises to make this all go away.
Scientists have taken a monumental step towards recreating the way the human body produces sperm. This will no doubt lead to the creation of artificial sperm and eggs for infertility treatment very soon.
According to researchers from the University of Cambridge’s Gurdon Institute, they’ve reached the halfway point in understanding how a stem cell turns into a sperm. This is a significant achievement which will have huge ramifications towards curing infertility in humans.
The team’s attempting to fully understand how embryonic cells become sperm through a series of complex steps that take around eight weeks to unfold. Apparently, a male sperm cell and a female egg cell starts off as the same when it’s “born”, but they both take different directions at a specific time in their development.
Thanks to new technology, scientists have devised a way in which they can go past the crossroads point of a cell’s development to when it ultimately becomes a sperm for the very first time, tracking all the intermediary steps in the process.
In India alone, infertility is set to affect 25 crore couples by 2020 — the artificial sperm can help fix this problem once and forever, assuming the scientists studying this process will also be able to create an artificial egg. This process can also allow gay couples to have a baby that’s genetically related to both parents. Sterile women can one day opt for artificial eggs, and avoid taking expensive fertility drugs which can lead to undesirable side-effects.
Mice trials have successfully finished, as the research scientists get ready to begin human trials on producing safe, usable artificial sperm.