'Cure' for Male Infertility Sparks Medical Ethics Row

The Evening Standard (London, England), July 11, 2006 | Go to article overview

'Cure' for Male Infertility Sparks Medical Ethics Row


Byline: ED HARRIS

THE discovery of a potential cure for male infertility has triggered fresh debate about the ethics of reproductive science.

A team of scientists used artificially grown sperm to fertilise mouse eggs, producing seven babies of which six survived.

But the value of the research was questioned by ethics campaigners.

Josephine Quintavalle, of Comment on Reproductive Ethics, said: "At this stage, things are going very wrong. The further you deviate from the norm, the more likely you are to create more problems than you bargained for."

The research team was led by Professor Karim Nayernia at Newcastle University.

Professor Nayernia and his team developed a new strategy for generating mature sperm cells in the laboratory using embryonic stem cells - blank cells which have the potential to turn into other cell types.

The cells were encouraged to grow into sperm in the laboratory, then injected into eggs and grown into early-stage embryos which were transplanted into female mice.

Professor Nayernia said: "This research is particularly important in helping us to understand more about spermatogenesis, the biological process in which sperm is produced. …

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'Cure' for Male Infertility Sparks Medical Ethics Row
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