Study paves way for gay couples to have babies

London [England], Sept. 14 : A recent experimental study, in a surprising new revelation suggests that it might be possible to conceive children using skin cells, thus making it possible for gay couples to have babies without the involvement of the other sex.

As per a report in The Independent, the scientists conducted the test on mice and showed that it would be possible to conceive using other kinds of cells and produce healthy offspring even by avoiding the normal route of fertilizing an egg with sperm.

The result implies that it would be practically feasible to fuse sperm with ordinary cells like skin or other tissue, without using cloning, to produce babies.

As a result, it could make human reproduction possible even without any need of the female part in the entire process.

Scientists call such a scenario "speculative and fanciful", but haven't ruled it out. If it happens, it would open way for gay men to have children with each other. And it would allow a man to fertilize his own cells with his own sperm, producing offspring that would use only his genes and those inherited from his parents.

The findings also suggest that women who are otherwise incapable of reproducing due to cancer drugs or other treatments can still have their own babies, using other cells of their bodies.

Presently such people have only one way to produce babies and that is by freezing their eggs before the treatment commences.

The same treatment can also allow the preservation of endangered species, as it allows scientists to get around the often complicated and difficult process of collecting eggs from those that they wish to help breed.

Instead, they could just use sperm and somatic cells. Lead scientist Tony Perry said, "Our work challenges the dogma, held since early embryologists first observed mammalian eggs around 1827 and observed fertilization 50 years later, that only an egg cell fertilized with a sperm cell can result in live mammalian birth." However, Perry has also made clear that the tests on mice only prove that the technique would work in principle.

Much more work will have to be done before it can be technically feasible, he added. The experiment used "parthenogenote" mouse embryos that were created by scientists. They are all-female embryos made without any sperm, created by tricking an egg into developing as if it was fertilized.

Usually, those embryos die after a few days because they are not properly programmed. But in the new studies, scientists found that they could inject them with sperm and transform them into normal embryos and let them go on to produce healthy offspring.

The study produced 30 mouse pups with a success rate of 24 percent. That is far above the 1 or 2 percent success rate usually found in the traditional method of cloning, by transferring DNA to donated eggs.

That finding matters because parthenogenotes are similar to other ordinary cells, like skin cells. Both are mitotic, and if living offspring can be produced from one then it should be possible to create them from the other using the same technique.

But the scientists will have to do further research to check whether that actually works. "The practical applications of this as the technology stands at the moment are not very broad. What we're saying is that these embryos are mitotic cells mitotic cells are the type of cell that almost every dividing cell in your body is.

And therefore potentially one day we might be able to extend what we've shown in these mitotic cells to other mitotic cells," ," said Perry.

"Will we be able to do that? I don't know. But I think, if it is ever possible, one day in the distant future people will look back and say this is where it started," he added.

Source: ANI