In a major breakthrough the British scientists have reportedly succeeded in generating sperm and ovarian cells from stem cells. Professor Harry Moore from the Center for Stem Cell Biology in Sheffield said that "the research meant it might ultimately be possible to produce sperm and eggs to use in assisted conception treatments".
It should now be possible to help couples with infertility. This research will allow embryonic stem cells to develop into the earliest stages of eggs and sperm. The stem cells can now be taken from embryos donated for research by couples undergoing in vitro fertilization.
Stem cells are master cells that have the capacity to grow into any type of cell in the body. Embryonic stem cells are currently derived from very early embryos left over from infertility treatments. In May, researchers in South Korea had created batches of embryonic stem cells from nine patients and they had used mature eggs harvested from human females to create the cloned embryos from which the stem cells were derived.
Almost 15% of couples suffer from infertility and the incidence is rising. Newer research in this field is likely to give further boost to the field of infertility.