Stem Cells Set to Stamp Out Infertility

In the United Kingdom, the experiment using lab-generated sperm to fertilize a human egg tends to be very controversial and requires authorization from the Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority. At present, such fertility treatments are not supported by the British government.

That does not deter Nayernia, who said that he hopes "in three to five years, researchers will be able to carry out clinical trials on human beings, by injecting sperm stem cells directly into the testes of infertile men."

"If we have more results in the lab," he said, "we could convince the government to allow us to run clinical trials in the future."

That does not seem likely to fertility doctors like Smotrich, who said that "the idea that this is actually going to be a viable option for single women or infertile men in the next five years is tremendously far-fetched."

For his part, when questioned as to the likelihood of such a procedure emerging in five years or even 10 years, Alison simply said: "Frankly, no one has any idea if such a day will come, and if it will come next week, next month or next year."

"Stem cell research," he said, "is a relatively new field, and while that makes it a very exciting area of research, it also means that it's prone to several false starts."

So far it would seem that this new study, although hailed as path-breaking and pioneering by British newspapers like The Independent, could well prove to be yet another such false start.

Dan Childs contributed to the reporting of this story.

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