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Monday, 10 August, 1998, 23:17 GMT 00:17 UK
UK doctors pioneer testicular transplant
Cancer patients could have testicular tissue transplanted at a later date
The world's first human testicular tissue transplants could be performed by UK doctors.

The treatment has already proved successful in animals and it could mean that infertile men will be able to use other men's sperm to father children.

The treatment has been pioneered at the Christie Hospital in Manchester as a means of restoring fertility to cancer patients whose treatment has left them sterile.

Tissue frozen

Patients have testicular tissue removed, frozen and then transplanted when they are clear of the disease.

The transplant treatment could be expanded to men who want children but are naturally unable to.

Ethical concerns have arisen
In the first trial, 11 young cancer patients who were due to have chemotherapy had surgery to remove samples of sperm producing cells.

The plan is to transplant those cells back into the patients' bodies.

The cancer specialist leading the trial said the treatment was inspired by work on animal sperm cell transplants carried out in America.

A German expert has also demonstrated the technique in monkeys.

Helping hundreds

The conventional treatment for men has been to preserve their sperm but this requires expensive medical treatment for their partners and is not possible in young boys.

It is predicted the transplants could help hundreds of young cancer patients in the UK, especially boys, who are being treated for malignancies.

One instance the transplant could be used is for a testicular cell transplant from a fertile father to an infertile son.

But ethics groups have warned that the technique could pose the problem of "genetic adultery".

Resulting children may not look like their fathers and have other psychological problems, they have warned.

See also:

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