Stem Cell Breakthrough Will Allow 2-Father Biological Babies ‘In 2 Years’

Cambridge University has achieved a new stem cell research that could allow the first fully “manufactured” baby to be created from the skin cells of two adults of the same gender, opening the door to same-sex couples having their own biological babies.

Researchers from Cambridge University working together with Israel’s Weizmann Institute of Science, have paired stem cell lines from embryos with the skin of five different adults, according to the study published in the journal Cell.

The medical experiment had previously succeeded in creating live baby mice, but this is the first study on humans in which the engineered cells created in the laboratory were compared to aborted fetuses to determine an identical match.

CBS reports:

Researchers from Cambridge University teamed with Israel’s Weizmann Institute of Science to pair stem cell lines from embryos with the skin of five different adults, according to the study published in the journal Cell. The medical experiment was previously successful in creating live baby mice but this marks the first study on humans in which the engineered cells created in the laboratory were compared to aborted fetuses to determine an identical match.

“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,” Azim Surani, Wellcome Trust project leader and professor of physiology and reproduction at Cambridge, told the Sunday Times.

The researchers said that stem cells and adult human skin were used from ten different donor sources and new germ-cell lines were created from all the experiments. The SOX17 gene is critical in the “reprogramming” process of human cells, according the researchers.

The team says it is possible to make human egg and sperm cells from the skin of two adults of the same gender – prompting interest from people with infertility diseases and gay couples.

“It has already caused interest from gay groups because of the possibility of making egg and sperm cells from parents of the same sex,” Jacob Hanna, the specialist leading the project’s Israeli arm, said to the Sunday Times.
The researchers noted to the Sunday Times that the development raises serious ethical issues, but many can potentially benefit from the technique they’ve been testing on humans since creating artificial human eggs and sperm for the first time last year.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that Assisted Reproductive Technology(ART) was performed at 456 clinics in the U.S. in 2012, resulting in 51,267 live births. Although still relatively “rare,” just over 1 percent of all infants born in the U.S. each year are conceived using ART methods.

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