A new study has revealed something rather interesting: in the future, gay men could have a baby together without the need of a female egg.
This research was conducted by fertility experts at Bath University, and it they found that it is possible to create an embryo by fusing skin cells with sperm, which means that a female egg may not be necessary.
Of course, a woman would still be required as a surrogate in order to carry the baby, but the study did find that it’s possible to conceive healthy mice using other cells combined with sperm.
According to Dr Tony Perry, lead scientist and molecular embryologist, the success with mice showed that the technique worked in principle.
He said: “Our work challenges the dogma, held since early embryologists first observed mammalian eggs around 1827 and observed fertilisation 50 years later, that only an egg cell fertilised with a sperm cell can result in live mammalian birth.”
Dr Perry did stress that there was a lot of work ahead before this became feasible in humans. There would also need to be work done on success rates, as out of 30 mice born using the technique, about a quarter of the births were successful.
Dr Perry continued: “The practical applications of this as the technology stands at the moment are not very broad. What we’re saying is that these embryos are mitotic cells – mitotic cells are the type of cell that almost every dividing cell in your body is.”
“And therefore potentially one day we might be able to extend what we’ve shown in these mitotic cells to other mitotic cells. Will we be able to do that? I don’t know. But I think, if it is ever possible, one day in the distant future people will look back and say this is where it started.”
This of course has potential impact for people as well as gay men. It’s also believed that Dr Perry’s technique could be used to help cure infertility in both men and women and also for cancer patients who can’t conceive due to chemotherapy.