If the breakthrough can be verified, it may prove life-changing for the tens of thousands of men around the world who cannot produce their own sperm. Only recently have sperm cells been grown in the laboratory for the first time, raising the prospect of treatment for infertile men, scientists have claimed.

A company in France claims to have successfully turned scraps of genetic material into complete fully-functional sperm, a world-first.

If the breakthrough can be verified, it may prove life-changing for the tens of thousands of men around the world who cannot produce their own sperm. The Kallistem Laboratory, a private research facility based in Lyon, claimed it would be able to carry out human clinical trials within two years. According to a report published in DailyMailOnline, if commercialised, the firm hopes to treat 50,000 patients a year, a market that could be worth £1.7 billion.

But the findings have not been published, peer reviewed or independently verified – and British experts last night were treating the claims with scepticism. Kallistem said it had managed to transform basic male fertility cells, called spermatogonia, into mature sperm in test tubes. The procedure may help the many men who cannot develop sperm themselves.

Also, a British hospital is using cutting-edge medical technology to keep lungs ‘breathing’ outside the body for as long as 24 hours. The extraordinary breakthrough could save the lives of hundreds of patients. Medical experts say the technique could double the number of lung transplants that take place each year. It is being put into practice at London hospital, the Royal Brompton and Harefield, which last year introduced another technique which can help keep donor hearts alive.

Donor organs have commonly been placed in a cool box and packed in ice to stop them deteriorating when being transported between hospitals before transplantation surgery. This method allows the organs to remain outside the body for a maximum of six hours. But the groundbreaking Organ Care System (OCS) can keep the donor lungs breathing for a full day.

The OCS machine works by keeping the lungs in effectively the same conditions they would be in the body. The lungs are placed in a portable sealed plastic box with a pump inside that provides a constant supply of blood to the organ. A ventilator in the container inflates and deflates the lungs. Medical experts say this ‘breathing lung’ technology can improve the organ’s condition. It also opens the possibility that lungs could be transported long distances, and still be in a good enough state for transplantation at the end of the journey.

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