April 14, 2024

The mouse with two dads, no mum

Using stem cell technology, scientists in Japan have succeeded in breeding mice with two fathers and no mother.

Katsuhiko Hayashi, of the University of Osaka, used genetic engineering to create seven mice pups, by turning male stem cells into eggs.

Hayashi made the announcement at the Third International Summit on Human Genome Editing in London last week. The results of the research have yet to be published in a peer-reviewed journal.

After the embryos were created, they were placed in a “surrogate mother”. However, some scientists believe that it will be possible to develop an artificial uterus so that the mouse pup can be gestate in a laboratory.

These developments obviously mean that it might be possible for homosexual men to have genetically related children – although experts say that this is a long way off – perhaps 10 years.

The technique is still being refined. At the moment it has a low success rate – only 7 mice were born out of 630 transferred embryos. But all of the seven were healthy and fertile.

Apart from technical hurdles, there are numerous ethical complications with the idea of two men – or even a single man –creating a baby. Doesn’t every child deserve a mother and a father? Does this mean that women are obsolete? How about the surrogate mothers? How many embryos and foetuses would die to perfect the technique?

Bioethics writer Wesley J. Smith called for caution in National Review: “Because we might be able to figure out how to twist nature into a knot doesn’t mean that we should. The time is long past due to legally regulate human experiments in this field of biotechnology before it is too late.”