Human Testicular Tissue Grown In Mice
Boys who contract cancer could in future have their fertility preserved - with the help of a mouse. In a proof-of-principle experiment, researchers have shown it is possible to grow immature human testicular tissue in mice. The next step will be to mature the tissue and harvest sperm cells. These would then be frozen for a pre-pubescent cancer patient to use later in his life. Around 1 in 650 children contract cancer before puberty and about 25% of these die. Most of the survivors are left infertile from the toxic side effects of chemotherapy. "There's really nothing you can do today to preserve fertility," says Pasquale Patrizio at Yale University Fertility Center in New Haven, Connecticut. The problem is that while adult males can simply freeze some sperm before treatment, young boys are not capable of ejaculating. But Patrizio's team have now worked out a technique to derive sperm from immature tissue.