Bioethics News

Male and female infertility. Could cell therapy be the solution?

Recent years have seen unquestionable advances in cell therapy, yet there are still only a few areas in human medicine in which these types of cells have been shown to be really effective. One of these is the area of reproductive diseases that can cause male and female infertility.

A superb review has recently been published that tackles this subject in depth (Human Reproduction 30; 2014-2021, 2015).

Cell therapy has been proposed as a possible solution for various reproductive problems that do not affect the gametes, among them endometrial lesions, erectile dysfunction and vaginal atrophy.

As far as the production of spermatozoa from different types of stem cells is concerned, new experimental studies are needed to be able to obtain mature, functioning sperm, so in vitro production of sperm is not possible at the present time.

The situation is similar as regards the possibility of obtaining oocytes, since their production from pluripotent cells is still a very distant prospect.

In regard to cell therapy of the reproductive tract, there is currently no effective treatment for endometrial damage, or for vaginal reconstruction, owing to a lack of relevant studies in humans, with the result that at the moment, these types of treatments can be considered experimental only.

Cell therapy could also be a promising possibility in the treatment of erectile dysfunction, but the technology still needs further development to overcome the limitations identified in preliminary studies.

The authors concluded that at present, there are no cell therapies available for general use (outside of ongoing clinical trials) aimed at improving or solving medical issues related with the reproductive system.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.