Sperm cells have been grown in the laboratory for the first time, scientists have claimed, raising the prospect of a treatment for infertile men. A company in France claims to have successfully turned scraps of genetic material into complete fully-functioning sperm – a world-first. If the breakthrough can be verified, it may prove life-changing for the tens of thousands of men around the world who cannot produce their own sperm. 

The Kallistem laboratory, a private research facility based in Lyon, claimed it would be able to carry out human clinical trials within two years. If commercialised, the firm hopes to treat 50,000 patients a year, a market it that could be worth £1.7 billion. But the findings have not been published, peer reviewed or independently verified – and British experts last night were treating the claims with scepticism. Kallistem said it had managed to transform basic male fertility cells, called spermatogonia, into mature sperm in test tubes. MORE