Is GLBT reproduction one step closer?

“Look, Dad – no Mum!” was the headline in one of Nature’s blogs. Reproductive scientists in a Texas research centre have produced male and female mice from two fathers using induced pluripotent stem cells .

They claim that the achievement of two-father offspring could help preserve endangered species, improve livestock breeds, and advance human assisted reproductive technology. It also opens the provocative possibility of same-sex couples having their own genetic children, the researchers noted in a headline-grabbing aside.

However, the procedure is so complicated that it is unlikely to have any practical application for some time.

The scientists used cells from a male (XY) mouse fetus to produce an iPS cell line. About one percent of iPS cell colonies grown from this XY cell line spontaneously lost the Y chromosome, resulting in XO cells. The XO iPS cells were injected into embryos and then transplanted into surrogate mothers. These gave birth to female XO/XX chimeras having one X chromosome from the original male mouse fibroblast.

The female chimeras, carrying oocytes derived from the XO cells, were mated with normal male mice. Some of the offspring were male and female mice that had genetic contributions from two fathers.

This experiment does show that iPS cells could be used for ethically controversial purposes. It shows that it might be possible to generate human eggs from male iPS cells. Of course, a surrogate mother would still be needed to carry the two-father pregnancy to term.

The procedure could work the other way around. "It may also be possible to generate sperm from a female donor and produce viable male and female progeny with two mothers," say the researchers.

The authors of the study, published in the journal Biology of Reproduction, caution that the "generation of human iPS cells still requires significant refinements prior to their use for therapeutic purposes." ~ Eurekalert, Dec 8

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