Within a decade, it may be possible for scientists to grow sperm and eggs from embryonic stem cells, according to scientists from the University of Sheffield. Scientists in Japan and the US have already shown that this is possible in mice, but this is the first step towards doing it with human cells. The social implications of this work are far-reaching. In the first place, it could be used to help men and women whose gametes have been damaged by cancer treatment. Female fertility would no longer be limited by the menopause. Therapeutic cloning could become viable because there would be an unlimited source of human eggs.
More imaginative uses include creating both eggs and sperm for homosexual couples or enabling single people to create babies. The research leader, Henry Moore, says “This is probably ten years away from the clinic. We have a lot more work to do, and we have to prove it is safe.”
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