Are biological babies from same-sex parents on the way?


biological_babies_from_gay_parents_on_the_wayChildren from the genes of two men or two women may soon be a reality, say scientists, possibly giving same-sex couples the option of having children that are biologically theirs.

In a major breakthrough, researchers from Cambridge University in the UK and the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel have managed to turn human skin cells into embryonic cells that give rise to sperm and ova.

This is the first time that adult human cells have been programmed into becoming these early developmental cells, which could allow scientists to create egg or sperm from either a man or a woman.

If it becomes a reality, the technology would help infertile people as well as those in same-sex couples who both want to be the biological parents of their child (although a male couple would still require a woman to carry their baby to term in her womb).

Weizmann Institute researcher Jacob Hanna has pointed out that a number of hurdles remain before labs will be able to complete the chain of events that move an adult cell through the cycle of embryonic stem cell and around to sperm or ova.

He nevertheless told The Sunday Times that he believes that the technique could be used to create a baby within two years.

“It has already caused interest from gay groups because of the possibility of making egg and sperm cells from parents of the same sex,” Hanna said.

“I am not in favour of creating engineered humans and the social and ethical implications . . . need to be thought through, but I am very confident it will work and will be very relevant to anyone who has lost their fertility through disease,” he added.

Even if scientists are able to perfect the technique of creating babies from the genes of a same-sex couple, it is likely to generate widespread ethical and legal controversy that could hold back the technology for some time.

Earlier this month, British MPs voted to allow a technique that will see the use of a third person’s DNA in the creation of babies in order to prevent the transmission of genetic diseases if the mother carries the condition.

Get the Mamba Newsletter

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Send this to a friend