For the first time, scientists have shown that it’s possible for two people of the same sex to create a baby, without the need for outside egg or sperm donation. The most obvious benefits would be for homosexual couples who want to have a child together, but the method could also help couples who have been affected by infertility.
The team, from Cambridge University in the UK and Israel’s Weizmann Institute of Science, built on previous work where baby mice were successfully raised from mouse skin cells that had been converted into what’s known as primordial germ cells – the precursors of egg and sperm cells. It was a real struggle to replicate the process using human biological matter, but now they’ve finally managed to create new human primordial germ cells using skin cells from five human donors and stem cell lines from five human embryos.
“We have succeeded in the first and most important step of this process, which is to show we can make these very early human stem cells in a dish,” lead researcher and professor of physiology and reproduction at Cambridge, Azim Surani, told Lois Rogers at The Sunday Times. “We have also discovered that one of the things that happens in these germ cells is that epigenetic mutations, the cell mistakes that occur with age, are wiped out. That means the cell is regenerated and reset, so while the rest of the cells in the body have aged and contain genetic mistakes, these ones don’t. We can’t say no mutations are passed on, but mostly it doesn’t happen.” Via Two-dad babies could soon be a reality.