Future of Fertility: Artificial Sperm & Ova?
The future of infertility treatment could be positioned for a very sci-fi future, at least according to scientists in London.
In early 2018, researchers and scientists spoke at the annual Progress Educational Trust conference stating that they were close to being able to create artificial sperm and egg. Using stem cells, researchers say that they’re about “halfway” to being able to turn human skin cells into immature sperm. If the research and process continue to fruition, this would be a dramatic shift in the IVF community.
For example, two father households would be able to parent a child, as one partner’s cells could be used to create an artificial ovum. The same holds true for two mother households, as one mother could donate her skin cells to create artificial sperm.
The next level of research will see scientists studying if artificial genetic materials are more likely to lead to an increased presence of chromosomal abnormalities and defects.
Additionally, researchers will begin to tackle the tricky process of meiosis. During meiosis, embryotic cells morph into immature sperm cells. At current, researchers can track the process to four weeks into the eight-week process. By eight weeks, the cells, which were previously indeterminate to become either sperm or ova, will display which reproductive material that they will mature into.
Researchers are quick to limit excitement, however, stating that this potential reality is, at a minimum, at least ten years into the future. In interim, the prospect will have those in the assisted reproduction world considering the ethics of creating artificial biogenetics for this purpose. At the time of this article, it remains illegal for fertility clinics in Britain to use artificial sperm or ova to treat those suffering from infertility.