Scientific Breakthrough Makes It Possible For Men To Give Birth

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Scientists have defied nature in an experiment which could one day make it possible for men to have babies with each other.

The landmark experiment has opened a window to a sci-fi future in which babies could be conceived from non-egg cells. The result means sperm could potentially be fused with ordinary cells derived from skin or other tissue to create viable embryos.  The study shows that sperm and skin cells – or any other kind of non-egg cell – might be all you need for conception.

Scientists admitted the scenario of men conceiving was ‘speculative and fanciful’, but did not rule it out in principle.

The injection of sperm into a parthenogenote mouse embryo, pictured. If injecting sperm into a mammalian parthenogenote can produce offspring, theoretically at least it should be possible to achieve the same result using mitotic cells not derived from eggs

HOW THIS COULD BE USED

– The extraordinary result raises the possibility of ethically-questionable applications that turn nature on its head by doing away with the female side of reproduction. 

– Gay men, for instance, could have babies with each other, and a man could even fertilise his own cells to produce offspring containing a mixture of genes inherited from him and his parents.

– More realistically, the technique could allow women whose fertility has been wiped out by cancer drugs or radiotherapy to have their own children.

While eggs can be frozen before cancer therapy and later fertilised in an IVF clinic, currently nothing can be done once they have been lost. 

– Conception using sperm and somatic cells would also aid the preservation of endangered species, since it avoids the need to recover eggs. 

– Eggs can be tricked into developing into an embryo without fertilisation, but the embryos, called parthenogenotes, die after a few days.

– Eggs can be tricked into developing into an embryo without fertilisation, but the embryos, called parthenogenotes, die after a few days. 

Scientists have developed a method of injecting mouse parthenogenotes with sperm so they can go on in many cases to become healthy.
This is first time that full term development has been achieved by injecting sperm into embryos,’ said lead scientist Dr Tony Perry, a molecular embryologist from the University of Bath.
‘It had been thought that only an egg cell was capable of reprogramming sperm to allow embryonic development to take place.’

Working with mice, the team produced healthy offspring while bypassing the normal process of fertilising an egg cell with sperm.
Although the embryos in the experiment started out as egg cells, the experiment raises the prospect that one day they could do the same with adult cells.

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