Researchers from Cambridge University have shown for the first time that it is possible to make human egg and sperm cells using skin from two adults of the same sex.
The team’s findings could mean that it would be possible for same-sex couples to have babies within just two years. The findings could also help men and women who are infertile, scientists noted.
The scientific breakthrough may lead to a baby being made in a dish from the skin cells of two adults of the same sex, bringing hope to gay people.
The project, funded by the Wellcome Trust, was achieved at Cambridge University with Israel’s Weizmann Institute of Science.
Publishing their findings in the journal Cell, researchers used the skin from five adults to create stem cells that make sperm and eggs in the body. In total, they have created new cell lines from ten different donor sources – five embyros and five adults.
The team compared the engineered stem cells with natural human stem cells from aborted human foetuses to check they have identical characteristics, the Sunday Times reports.
Azim Surani, leader of the project, said: “We have succeeded in the first and most important step of this process, which is to show we can make these very early human stem cells in a dish.”
Jacob Hanna, from the Weizmann Institute, added: “It has already caused interest from gay groups because of the possibility of making egg and sperm cells from parents of the same sex.”
However, he said they are aware of the vast ethical concerns their findings raise in terms of the potential for designer babies: “I am not in favour of creating engineered humans and the social and ethical implications need to be thought through.”
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