Baby Grady gives fatherhood hope for young boys
Scientists have successfully produced a live birth using sperm derived from frozen prepubertal testicular tissue. The work in rhesus macaques is groundbreaking because currently there is no way to preserve fertility in prepubertal boys undergoing cancer therapy. For men and women, including young girls, sperm and eggs can be frozen.
In the experiment, published in Science, scientists at the University of Pittsburgh, USA, took testicular tissue from young monkeys. They froze it and then after six months they grafted it back under the skin of the same animals.
As the animals went through puberty the grafted testicular tissue developed and produced testosterone. Active sperm was retrieved from the tissue and used to fertilise eggs. Eleven embryos were implanted in female macaques, resulting in one live birth, a baby called Grady.
Allan Pacey, Professor of Andrology at the University of Sheffield, says: ‘This is a really excellent study, which is a great step forward, but it is important to remember that before we could attempt to use it in humans, further research would be needed to show that it is safe and that it works in the same kind of way.’
Some boys have already had testicular tissue frozen in the hope that science would one day give them the option of having children.