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Lab-grown mouse sperm could spawn fertility treatments for men


3 Star


Lab-grown mouse sperm could spawn fertility treatments for men

Our Review Summary

While the story might have been clearer about potential problems and obstacles that may be ahead for turning this laboratory work in mice into something of potential value in humans, it was an interesting story about a novel laboratory outcome.


Why This Matters

The goals of cancer treatment have broadened beyond simply reducing deaths from cancer to preserving quality of life, including the potential for future fertility. This work reports initial success with a laboratory procedure that could be a first step in a novel strategy to protect reproductive potential in boys treated for cancer prior to puberty.


Does the story adequately discuss the costs of the intervention?

Not Applicable

Not applicable. This was a story about a laboratory result and while it did not contain information about costs, discussion about cost would have been premature.

Does the story adequately quantify the benefits of the treatment/test/product/procedure?

Not Satisfactory

The story didn’t explain how often the experiment was done in mice, the rate of success, etc.

Does the story adequately explain/quantify the harms of the intervention?

Not Satisfactory

The story mentioned that additional work assessing safety was needed without going into the potential harms to young boys who might have biopsy samples taken, sample viability issues that might arise from the long term frozen storage, or the possible legal morass about ownership of the samples  (patient only?, parents or other family members of the patient?).   It would have only required another line or so to help readers think more deeply about the unknown potential harms.

Does the story seem to grasp the quality of the evidence?

Not Satisfactory

The story used the term ‘breakthrough’ to describe the experiment but did not provide sufficient framework to back that up.  We didn’t learn how often the work was successful, in how many mice, etc.

The story did state: “The commentary authors wrote that further work on the technique’s safety would be needed before it would be ready for clinical use.” But it didn’t say anything about the need to replicate the results in other labs. More than just safety, the efficacy of the approach in mice must be replicated. And it could have reminded readers of the tremendous leap that may be necessary in making the jump from sperm development in vitro in mice to anything that has value in boys undergoing cancer treatment. Again, not just safety, but efficacy.

Does the story commit disease-mongering?


The story did not engage in overt disease-mongering.

Does the story use independent sources and identify conflicts of interest?

Not Satisfactory

The story did not include comments about the work and its implications from a related commentary in the journal Nature.

Does the story compare the new approach with existing alternatives?


The story was clear that the results reported were the first time that sperm development from immature testicular samples had been successful in the laboratory.

Does the story establish the availability of the treatment/test/product/procedure?


The story reported on an experimental outcome in mice and though it described a population in whom the technique might be useful, it was clear that additional work was needed before it was ready for clinical application.

Does the story establish the true novelty of the approach?


The story was clear that it was reporting about a novel experimental outcome.

Does the story appear to rely solely or largely on a news release?


The story does not appear to rely solely on a news release.

Total Score: 5 of 9 Satisfactory


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