Professor Daniel Brison, British Fertility Society spokesperson and Scientific Director, Department of Reproductive Medicine, Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said:

“This is a very significant study, as it now permits sperm formation (spermatogenesis) to be studied in the laboratory rather than only in an animal model.  Spermatogenesis is a highly complex biological process and in humans is often impaired, leading to a high incidence of subfertility in men.  Relatively little is known about this, and there are few clinical treatments available other than assisted conception.  This new research will allow a greater understanding of the way in which sperm form, and may eventually result in clinical therapies for male subfertility.  For this to happen the work will have to be repeated using human germline stem cells, and there will also be safety aspects to consider before this method could be used for human reproduction.”

Notes for editors

The full paper this statement is in response to can be found at: Ogawa et al. 2011. Nature Communications, 2: 472 DOI:10.1038/ncomms1478