New hope as sperm cells grown from skin

injects sperm directly into an egg during in-vitro fertilization (IVF). Credit: Reuters

Scientists have created early stage sperm cells from the skin of men with a genetic defect that makes them infertile.

Scientists believe in the long-term future the technique may bring new hope to men genetically unable to generate sperm.

The process saw the skin samples from three men effectively sent backwards through the developmental process until they assumed the properties of embryonic stem cells - which can grow into virtually any kind of body tissue.

Dr Reijo Pera, lead researcher from Stanford University in the US, said his team's breakthrough might mean it is possible in future to "transplant stem-cell-derived germ cells directly into the testes of men with problems producing sperm".