An Italian doctor has claimed to have helped sterile men become fathers by cultivating their sperm in the testicular tissue of rats. Dr Antinori said that ten babies had so far been born using this technique, including one for a British couple. Although Dr Antinori refused to give details of his research or the patients involved, he claimed to be able to help men who produce no mature sperm by either injecting their immature sperm cells into rats' testes to develop there, or by growing the sperm cells in a laboratory culture created from rats' testes.
Dr Antinori explained the new treatment method, developed in collaboration with Professor Nikolaos Sofikitis of Tottori University at Yogano in Japan, at an international assisted reproduction conference in Venice. However, British experts are sceptical. Dr Simon Fishel of CARE (Centres for Assisted Reproduction) at the Park Hospital in Nottingham said that a colleague of Antinori had just published research in a scientific journal showing that it is possible to grow immature human sperm in mice. However, he pointed out that this is a long way from achieving human fertilisation.