A team of British scientists claim they have made a medical history by creating human sperm in a laboratory.
The researchers from Newcastle University in north-east England say their work could one day perhaps help men with fertility problems to father a child.
The man leading the project says the sperm, derived from human embryos donated during IVF treatment, are fully mature and functional.
Professor Karim Nayernia said: “Nearly all the characteristics for sperm cells are present – they have head, tail structure, they have proteins which are important for sperm development and function.”
But the research also raises ethical issues for some who say the work is more about mad science than making medical history
“We consider this moral madness,” says Josephine Quintavalle from Comment on Reproductive Ethics (CORE).
“What they are claiming to do is to take healthy human male embryos, destroy them in order to extract stem cells in order to create sperm – over which there are very great question marks as to what they have actually created – in orders to create what?”, she added.
Scientists say it will be at least five years before fertility treatment techniques using artificial sperm are perfected.