Once upon a time, you needed a man and a woman to create life.
A new study published in Nature Communications removes the woman from the baby-making process.
Scientists from the University of Bath found a way to trick sperm into fertilizing pseudo-embryos, which were made from skin cells, bypassing the egg altogether and basically eliminating the need for females.
“This is the first time that anyone has been able to show that anything other than an egg can combine with a sperm in this way to give rise to offspring,” Dr. Perry, one of the researchers, told the BBC. “It overturns nearly 200 years of thinking.”
More than that, we'd say.
But slow down, Dr. Frankenstein. No humans have been created in this fashion...yet. The pseudo-embryos in the experiment were injected with mouse sperm. A healthy embryo resulted in 1 in 4 cases.
The implications of these findings could have some far-reaching effects. Dr. Perry noted that one day scientists may well be able to create an embryo by combining sperm with ordinary cells from the body. That means two men could have a baby that uses one partner’s cell and the other’s sperm.
Or one man could use his own cells and sperm to create an embryo that’s his half-son half-twin.
And to take this a step further, given another experiment conducted earlier this year that showed scientists could create sperm from stem cells, Dr. Perry suggests that in the future both eggs and sperm may not be needed. Hurray?
One things for sure, middle school health class just got a lot more complicated.