Scientific breakthrough may allow same-sex couples to be biological parents to their kids

same sex couples may have ability to be biological parents their kids 42708608 l
According to a recently published article in the Journal of Law and Biosciences, successful acquisition of reproductive cells in mice suggests in vitro gametogenesis (IVG) may one day be possible in humans. In plain English, this means that two same-sex partners could one day have the ability to have children biologically related to both of them. Though the article points out testing has only occurred in mice (and human testing is a long way off), the recent breakthrough is no doubt a groundbreaking achievement.

In the early 2000s, scientists began experimenting with methods of deriving gametes in vitro from mice. Early studies focused on extracting gametes from a mouse’s fetal gonads, but it was soon discovered these same cells could be obtained via embryonic stem cells (ESCs). As the process of extracting gametes from stem cells was refined, scientists were able to develop viable ways to perform IVG through induced pluripotent stem cells, essentially allowing them to bypass using embryos.

“One significant technical hurdle that researchers were able to overcome was the difficulty of obtaining both eggs and sperm from female and male mice,” writes article author Sonia M. Suter. “Given that females lack a Y chromosome… the process of producing sperm from females is more complicated than deriving oocytes from males. Yet scientists have been able to derive primitive sperm cells from female human ESCs.”

This discovery allowed for the successful production of a viable offspring using in vitro gametes from either a male or female mice. However, Suter acknowledges characteristics of the organism have yet to be discovered, meaning it’s impossible to accurately judge what might happen in the long-term to offspring produced through this method. With similar work on human cells at a temporary standstill, however, any advancement (even in mice) allows scientists to try alternate approaches to human IVG.

“Given that research on mice has yielded both sperm and oocytes, however, it is probably merely a matter of time before human oocytes can be derived in vitro,” Suter continues. “While mice are clearly not human, the research thus far suggests ‘substantial’ similarities between the two species and provides ‘strong reasons to expect that human IVG would also prove equally functional in terms of live offspring generation.'”

DNA double helix

Assuming research advances to make it a viable reproductive option, just how would it work exactly? As one would sensibly reason, gay or straight participants would undergo slightly different methods. Concerning lesbian couples, doctors would first extract cells from one of the females to create a gamete of the opposite sex (i.e. sperm). After this occurs, doctors then merge this sperm with a typically created gamete (the other woman’s egg), which then creates an embryo. Straight couples who experience either infertility or other situation preventing reproduction could also make use of this method.

“For lesbian couples, one or the other would be able to have the embryo implanted in her uterus so she could carry the pregnancy to term, avoiding entirely the need to rely on individuals outside the relationship to assist in their reproduction,” Suter explains. “And for straight couples, where one or both cannot provide gametes, IVG would also allow them to reproduce without relying on gamete donation.”

For male couples, surrogacy would still be required to bring the embryo to term, with Suter saying “unless artificial wombs become a viable option.” Although relying on a suitable surrogate still exists, having the opportunity to bear a child sharing each parent’s biological signature is an incredibly profound breakthrough.

Great news of this nature surely wouldn’t come with some sort of a downside, however. Though extended research on mice shows the potential of such a procedure in humans, many believe successful IVG in humans to be decades away. Not only are there heaps of scientific hurdles the researchers would have to clear, but extensive analysis on an IVG-reproduced child could take years before it’s deemed biologically safe. As expected, this raises serious concerns among the scientific community.

“Creating a great egg is not just about the egg,” says founder and CEO of Celmatix Piraye Yurttas Beim to Mic. “Just because it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it doesn’t mean it’s a duck. [IVG] is so interesting, but it’s also important to stay grounded in biological reality.”

Despite the bumpy road ahead and inevitable controversy, many believe that if it’s proven to be successful, the ethical concerns will go by the wayside. Still there will surely exist a wide range of people uneasy with people using IVG to create offspring. With decades of research and testing remaining before IVG sees the light of day, it remains to be seen whether this uneasiness fades or gets stronger.

However, Suter closes out her article with a quote which perhaps perfectly encapsulates what the general public’s idea of IVG should actually be, saying “in many contexts, IVG can be seen as just another way to make a baby.”

Computing

Four Andromeda-related Microsoft patents hint at new ways to use the device

Andromeda might be getting even more real as four Microsoft patents have surfaced recently, all of which hint at possible new use cases and other new configurations for the device. 
Cars

From Rolls-Royce to Lamborghini, these are the most expensive cars in the world

If you recently discovered an oil reserve in your backyard, you probably have some extra cash to spend. Look no further, because we’ve rounded up the most expensive cars in the world.
Emerging Tech

Bottle-flipping robots may be the most millennial thing we’ve ever seen

Until drones start vaping, you're unlikely to see anything more millennial than a recent contest in Japan in which robots competed to pull off some seriously impressive bottle-flipping feats.
Deals

The best Apple Watch deals for November 2018

The Apple Watch has surged to prominence in recent years. If you're in the market for an iOS wearable, we've sniffed out the best Apple Watch deals available right now for all three models of this great smartwatch.
Emerging Tech

Stronger than steel, thinner than paper, graphene could be the future of tech

Since its discovery, graphene has set the research world on fire. What exactly is it, though, and what could it mean for the future of tech? Here's everything you need to know about what could be the next supermaterial to take center stage.
Emerging Tech

The best drone photos from around the world

Most of today's drones come equipped with high-end cameras, which are quickly revolutionizing the world of aerial photography as we know it. Here are some of the best drone photos from around the world.
Emerging Tech

SpaceX makes rocketry look easy, sticks yet another Falcon 9 landing

SpaceX is due to perform its latest Falcon 9 rocket launch and landing on November 15 from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida. Here's how you can watch the proceedings live.
Emerging Tech

In a weighty decision, scientists prepare to redefine the kilogram

Metrologists are meeting at the General Conference on Weights and Measures in Versailles to vote on whether to redefine the kilogram as a constant that can be observed in the natural world.
Photography

See the National Forests like never before in these awe-inspiring drone videos

What's the difference between a National Park and a National Forest? Drones. With no ban on drones in National Forests -- at least, not yet -- filmmakers have a way to capture the immensity of these locations with stunning results.
Emerging Tech

Google’s balloon internet is coming to Kenya in 2019

In order to bring the internet to those who lack it, a company called Loon is launching balloons into the stratosphere. From more than 12 miles up, these balloons beam connectivity over a large area on the ground.
Emerging Tech

Hikers missing on Mount Fuji could soon find a drone buzzing above their heads

Hikers who go missing while climbing Japan's highest mountain could soon find a drone buzzing above their head. A new system using the flying machines has been set up on Mount Fuji for future search-and-rescue missions.
Emerging Tech

Elon Musk receives FCC approval to launch over 7,500 satellites into space

Not surprisingly, SpaceX is thinking big with Starlink, its space-based global broadband network. This week, the company received FCC approval to launch 7,518 satellites into a low-Earth orbit for its satellite internet service.
Cars

The world’s first 3D-printed titanium wheels are so intricate they look fake

HRE Performance Wheels and GE Additive have teamed up to create the world's first 3D-printed titanium wheels. They are not only impressively durable, but extremely lightweight as well.
Emerging Tech

Of all the vape pens in the world, these 5 are the best

Vaping concentrates has become significantly more popular, especially among those that use cannabis for medicinal purposes. But don’t use just any vape pen: we found these five devices to be our favorites in 2018.