Review Article

Artificial Sperm: New Horizons in Procreation

Valentin Shabataev and Raanan Tal


Azoospermia, the absence of any sperm cells from the ejaculated semen, poses a real challenge to the fertility urologist. While there are options to create happy families for azoospermic couples, such as the use of donor sperm and adoption, most couples still want to have genetically related offspring. Advances in urology, gynecology, and fertility laboratory technologies allow surgical sperm retrieval in azoospermic men and achievement of live births for many, but not all azoospermic couples. At present, there are extensive research efforts in several directions to create new fertility options by creating “artificial sperm cells.” While these new horizons are exciting, there are significant obstacles that must be overcome before such innovative solutions can be offered to azoospermic couples. The present review article defines the problem, describes the theoretical basis for creation of artificial genetically related sperm cells, and provides an update on current successes and challenges in the long tortuous path to achieve the ultimate goal: enabling every azoospermic couple to have their own genetically related offspring. Hopefully, these research efforts will ripen in the foreseeable future, resulting in the ability to create artificial sperm cells and provide such couples with off-the-shelf solutions and fulfilling their desire to parent genetically related healthy babies.

Rambam Maimonides Med J 2017;8(4):e0042