April 14, 2024

Canadian “mockumentary” about women fathering children

Probably impossible, but thought-provoking

Bioethics goes to the movies again. This time, it’s in a new Canadian film, The Baby Formula, about two lesbians who create sperm from each other’s stem cells and use them to create babies with their own eggs. At the moment, this is impossible, but it seems to be at the top of the list for some stem cell scientists.

In 2006, Karim Nayernia, of Newcastle University, generated sperm from male embryonic stem cells which fertilized female mice and produced offspring. A year later, his team derived primitive sperm from stem cells taken from the bone marrow of human men. At present, Dr Nayernia’s research group has been working on creating sperm from women’s bone marrow stem cells and is expected to report its findings within weeks.

Canadian biologist Dr Andras Nagy believes that creating sperm from female cells is all but impossible. However, he says the "mockumentary" has an important message about unprecedented ethical challenges that stem cell biology will present. "It’s a very, very rapidly changing world and we really have to be aware of that," he says. ~ Globe and Mail, June 19