Japanese Scientists Were Able To Create Baby Mice From Two Fathers
Scientists have made eggs from male mice’s cells for the first time, leading to the birth of 7 mice with two fathers, according to papers published on Wednesday that scientists described as “revolutionary.”
The method developed in the proof-of-concept study is far from being able to be used on humans. It has many obstacles to overcome, such as an extremely low rate of success in the field, adaptability concerns, and numerous ethical issues.
The breakthrough also opens up many possibilities for reproduction, such that gay couples or even a man who is single may have a biological child without the need for an egg from a female.
The study, which was released through the journal Nature, was conducted by a group of scientists in Japan under the direction of Katsuhiko Hayashi, a developmental biologist from Katsuhiko Hayashi of the Osaka and Kyushu universities.
Hayashi and his colleagues have previously discovered a method to extract the skin cells of a female mouse and turn them into eggs, which could then be used to create healthy babies.
Their most recent research set out to replicate the process in male cells. Similar to humans, male mice carry both the Y and X chromosomes, and females are blessed with two X chromosomes.
Researchers removed tissue cells of the skin from male mice and, using the dish, transformed them into induced stem cells that can develop into any cell.
Through this process, around six percent of cells could not retain their Y chromosomes, leaving just an X-chromosome that became called XO.
With the help of a fluorescent protein and an antagonist called reversine, the researchers succeeded in replicating the current X genome in the cells, thus creating the XX set.
The cells were used to fertilize the eggs using the sperm from a different male mouse before being implanted in the uteruses of female surrogate mice. Of 630 attempts, seven mice were born, which is a success rate of just more than one percent.
According to the study, the puppies do not display any abnormalities and are fertile by themselves.
Hayashi, who presented results during the Third International Summit on Human Genome Editing in London this week, cautioned that many hurdles remained to overcome before this technology can be applied to humans.
“There is a big difference between a mouse and a human,” said the speaker at the audience at the summit.
Nitzan Gonen, the laboratory director for determining sex in Israel’s Bar-Ilan University, told AFP that the paper was a “revolutionary paper” while warning that there was still a far distance to travel.
Theoretically, this technique could permit two males of the same gender couples to have a child, with one of them providing the sperm while another the egg, said Gonen, who was not part of the study.
One man might even be able to provide both the sperm and the egg, which Gonen claimed might have the potential to be “a bit more like cloning, like what they did with Dolly, the sheep”.
Jonathan Bayerl and Diana Laird, reproductive and stem cell experts from the University of California, San Francisco They, said whether the procedure could work with human stem cells still needs to be clarified.
However, this research is “a milestone in reproductive biology”, as they wrote in Nature. According to the report, a possible future application would be to save an endangered species with only one male left on edge, provided that a female is from another species.
However, Gonen said the process is currently “extremely inefficient”, with 99 percent of embryos failing to survive.
While pregnancy lasts just three weeks in mice, it can last for nine months in humans, which means plenty of time for something to be wrong, she said. If she were to make a guess, Gonen estimated that “scientifically speaking,” the technology could be available to humans within 10 to 15 years. However, she explained that didn’t include the time needed to go through ethical issues that could arise.
“The fact that we can do something does not necessarily mean we want to do it — especially when we are talking about a human being.”
Also read about Panasonic’s New Companion Robot Can Fart And That’s It.