Sperm Made from Female Stem Cells- All Female Baby Possible

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Scientists in the UK have successfully tricked stem cells from a female to develop into sperm.  If these cells are functional then the possibility exists for an “all-female” baby to be made from the cells of a same sex female couple.  This is the next step forward from a group that earlier did the same thing with cells from a man.

This study was reported in the British Telegraph Newspaper.  They listed it as embryonic stem cells from a female human embryo - they are likely wrong - as I read the report it appears to be cells isolated from an adult female human bone marrow. 

This same group from Newcastle University led by Prof. Karim Nayernia reported last year that they had made a sperm from the bone marrow of an adult man.  I reported on this research in my previous post Babies Without Men and how it opened the possibility of making sperm from a female and creating a female-female baby.  The details of the original project, ethical and genetic risks  and  heated (and sometimes nasty) debate on lesbian-lesbian parenthood are here.

He now reports that he has repeated the experiment and made the sperm from the marrow cells of a female.  The work has not yet been published not subjected to peer review. 

I previously reported that I think there is a ticking genetic time bomb here due to imprinting errors.  The genes that come from your mother and father are in some cases marked as such genetically and one copy may be shut off.  In some cases only the gene from mom is active in others only the one from dad.  This new process may mess with this system – and imprinting errors are known to cause genetic diseases in some cases.  In fact, the telegraph reports of some “problems”

Prof Nayernia showed the potential of the method in 2006, when he used sperm derived from male embryonic stem cells to fertilise mice to produce seven pups, six of which lived to adulthood, though the survivors did suffer problems.

They also report it could be used to make eggs from a gay man’s cells “a gay man to donate skin cells that could be used to make eggs, which could then be fertilised by his partner’s sperm and placed into the uterus of a surrogate mother.”

While they also report he is seeking permission to create a baby in this way, the UK is very restrictive on new reproductive technologies.  They have a law- the 1990 Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act- that restricts what can and cannot be done. 

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