Scientists have created early-stage sperm cells from human bone marrow, a development that a researcher says could one day lead to improvements in fertility treatments.

In a study published Friday, Professor Karim Nayernia of the University of Newcastle on Tyne in Britain and a team of researchers said they were able to create spermatagonial cells, which in most men develop into fully functional sperm, from stem cells in the bone marrow of human male volunteers.

However, the spermatagonial cells in the experiment did not turn into sperm cells, a process Nayernia hoped could be reached after more experimentation.

“Our next goal is to see if we can get the spermatagonial stem cells to progress to mature sperm in the laboratory and this should take around three to five years of experiments,” Nayernia said in a statement.

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