Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh have found a way to preserve testicular tissue. In fact, the first monkey was born, conceived thanks to this method and is perfectly healthy. This means that the new method could save the fertility of so many children and boys with cancer.
The first experiment was small, limited to primates. Yet this success raises the hope that the technique can also be applied to humans. If all goes well, it could become routine for those who have to undergo chemotherapy or radiation therapy, thus risking infertility.
The basic concept is similar to the one behind ovarian tissue conservation: "can we get mature gametes from immature tissue?" Now it seems that the answer is "yes". This is especially important for children undergoing treatments. Adults and adolescents can freeze their sperm, but this is not true for those who have not yet reached puberty. The team took tissue samples from the testes of five young macaques.
They have frozen them for a variable period, from five hours to five months. At this point they re-implanted the samples and let them ripen. Once removed again, all the samples were ready to produce spermatozoa. With the sperm obtained, the researchers fertilized 138 oocytes, of which 40% reached the first stages of development. One of these led to the birth of the Grady monkey.