[ExI] Female Sperm Male Eggs
fauxever at sprynet.com
Fri Feb 1 01:54:03 UTC 2008
Female sperm breakthrough:
DAILY MAIL, LONDON
February 01, 2008 12:15am
BRITISH scientists are ready to turn female bone marrow into sperm, cutting
men out of the process of creating life.
The breakthrough paves the way for lesbian couples to have children
biologically their own. Gay men could follow suit by using the technique to
make eggs from male bone marrow.
Researchers at Newcastle upon Tyne University say their technique will help
lead to new treatments for infertility. Critics warn it sidelines men and
raises the prospect of babies born through entirely artificial means.
The research centres on stem cells - the body's "mother" cells, which can be
turned into any other type of cell.
According to New Scientist magazine, the scientists want to take stem cells
from a female donor's bone marrow and transform them into sperm through the
use of chemicals and vitamins.
Newcastle professor Karim Nayernia has applied for permission to carry out
the work and is ready to start the experiments within two months.
The biologist, who pioneered the technique with mice, believes early-stage
"female sperm" could be produced inside two years. Mature sperm capable of
fertilising eggs might take three more years.
Early-stage sperm have already been produced from male bone marrow. Taking
stem cells from an adult donor - possibly a cancer patient - removes the
ethical problems associated with using embryos.e race to find a cure for
infertility is global.
Greg Aharonian, a U.S. analyst who is trying to patent the technologies
behind female sperm and male eggs, said he wants to undermine the argument
that heterosexual marriage is superior because it is aimed at procreation.
"I'm a troublemaker," he said.
Researchers at the Butantan Institute in Brazil, meanwhile, claim to have
turned embryonic stem cells from male mice into both sperm and eggs. They
are now working on skin cells.
If their experiments succeed, the stage would be set for a gay man to donate
skin cells that could be used to make eggs. These could then be fertilised
by his partner's sperm and placed into the womb of a surrogate mother.
Irina Kerkis, a researcher at the Brazilian centre, said this development
was possible but raised ethical questions.
Laboratory-grown sperm and eggs offer hope for those left infertile by
radiotherapy treatment when they were young. The experiments also could
provide an invaluable insight into dealing with infertility.
Scientists warn, however, that the research is still in its infancy and any
treatment is still many years away.
There also are fears that children born from artificial eggs and sperm will
suffer severe health problems. Children created from sperm from women would
be able to have girls only - because the female sperm would lack the Y
chromosome needed for boys.
Josephine Quintavalle, of the Comment on Reproductive Ethics campaign group,
said: "We are looking at absurd solutions to very obscure situations and not
addressing the main issue. Nobody is interested in looking at what is
causing infertility - social reasons such as obesity, smoking and age."
``All these things would provide solutions which wouldn't grab the
headlines, but a lot more people would get the response they want - which is
to be able to have their own children.'
Mike Judge, of the Christian Institute faith group, said the Newcastle
project flies in the face of research showing that children do best when
raised by a married mixed- sex couple.
"Children need male and female role models in their lives," he added. 'Yes,
there are children raised by single parents through all sorts of
circumstances, but when you are talking about deliberately creating children
in that way, that is morally wrong.' Debra Matthews, a U.S. bioethicist,
said: 'People want children and no one wants anyone else to tell them they
can't have them.'
An update of Britain's ageing fertility laws is going through Parliament and
is likely to allow the use of artificial sperm and eggs in IVF treatment -
but only for heterosexual couples.
The Newcastle research also paves the way for a woman to grow her own sperm
and use it to fertilise her natural eggs, creating a child to which she is
both mother and father.
Similarly, a man could be both father and mother to a child created with his
own sperm and a lab-grown egg. Such children would be at high risk of
- Daily Mail
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