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 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.
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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