Sperm Banks in Space Could Soon Become a Reality, Study Reveals

Scientists have suggested that a sperm bank could one day open in space, according to a new study.

According to the results of a small preliminary study, frozen samples exposed to micro-gravity conditions and those that as kept on the ground, keep the same similar characteristics.

It suggests that frozen sperm could one day make its way to space to “open the possibility of creating a human sperm bank outside of Earth”, the researchers said.

There will be further work to full understand the effect of space conditions on sperm, however.

The Milky Way's Galactic Centre, Jupiter (brightest spot in the centre-left of the image) and the Small Magellanic Cloud (SMC) galaxy (right bottom corner) are seen late on May 10, 2019 from the Uruguayan countryside in the department of Soriano, near the village of Andresito, department of Flores. (Photo by Mariana SUAREZ / AFP)        (Photo credit should read MARIANA SUAREZ/AFP/Getty Images)
Researchers compared samples on Earth and in micro-gravity

The report was presented at the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology annual meeting in Vienna, Austria.

It said that not a lot is known about how different levels of gravity affects sperm.

Dr Montserrat Boada, from Dexeus Women’s Health in Barcelona, said: “Some studies suggest a significant decrease in the motility of human fresh sperm sample.

“But nothing has been reported on the possible effects of gravitational differences on frozen human gametes, in which state they could be transported from Earth to space.”

Using sperm from 10 healthy donors, the team exposed some of the samples to micro-gravity using a small aerobatic aircraft.

They then analysed the concentration, motility and DNA fragmentation of the samples, which check for fertility.

No significant differences were found between the samples that were kept on the ground, and those that were exposed to micro-gravity, according to the study.

IN SPACE - MAY 29: In this handout provided by National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), back dropped by planet Earth the International Space Station (ISS) is seen from NASA space shuttle Endeavour after the station and shuttle began their post-undocking relative separation May 29, 2011 in space. After 20 years, 25 missions and more than 115 million miles in space, NASA space shuttle Endeavour is on the last leg of its final flight to the International Space Station before being retired and donated to the California Science Center in Los Angeles. Capt. Mark E. Kelly, U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords' (D-AZ) husband, has lead mission STS-134 as it delivered the Express Logistics Carrier-3 (ELC-3) and the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS-2) to the International Space Station. (Photo by NASA via Getty Images)
The researchers hope to be able to use real space flight in their studies

The researchers said: “The lack of differences observed in the sperm characteristics between frozen samples exposed to micro-gravity and those maintained in ground conditions open the possibility of safely transporting male gametes to space and considering the possibility of creating a human sperm bank outside of Earth.”

They said they will need to validate their findings with more samples and expose the sperm to space-like conditions for longer periods of time.

Dr Boada said: “Our best option will be to perform the experiment using real spaceflight but access is very limited.”


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