Scientists produce babies from same-sex mice pairs

Mindy Sparks
October 13, 2018

Dr Tim Hore, senior anatomy lecturer at the University of Otago in New Zealand, said: "The researchers in this paper used genetic modification to alter the genes which are expressed in a parent-specific manner in mammals".

To generate mouse pups from two male parents, the researchers had to delete seven imprinted regions.

While the researchers, from the Chinese Academy of Sciences, also created mice from two dads these only survived for a couple of days.

"To consider exploring similar technology for human application in the near future is implausible", said Dusko Ilic, a stem cell specialist at King's College London who was asked to comment on the Chinese results.

Healthy mice babies with two mothers and no father have been born.

Female pairs of mice produced viable babies, whose offspring went on to have their own progeny.

Researchers at the Chinese Academy of Sciences published an article today in Cell Stem Cell about their technique, which they say produced healthy children that were able to grow up and reproduce.

Same-sex couples (or women wishing to get pregnant without a partner) must now use donor sperm or eggs, as well as a surrogate in some cases.

Creating mice with two genetic fathers follows a similar, yet more complicated, path: Scientists must remove female genetic material from an egg, which is carried to term by a surrogate mother.

In creating the "mothers only" mice, the researchers simply injected edited stem cells directly into the egg, which was then implanted into another female mouse.

A scientist holds a healthy adult mouse born from two mothers.

"Most people accept that genetically engineering humans is morally unconscionable, and doing the same thing to mice using stem-cell technology is just as reprehensible - it will not solve reproductive problems but will lead to misery for intelligent, sensitive beings".

"We found in this study that haploid ESCs were more similar to primordial germ cells, the precursors of eggs and sperm", according to co-senior author Hu Baoyang of CAS.

They used a special kind of stem cell called a "haploid" embryonic stem cell, which means that they contain 23 rather than the usual 46 DNA-carrying chromosomes (just like male sperm).

Those pups survived 48 hours after birth, but the researchers are planning to improve the process so that the bi-paternal mice live to adulthood.

A DNA helix made of multicolored bokeh dots. "The defects in bimaternal mice [shown in previous research] can be eliminated and bipaternal reproduction barriers in mammals can also be crossed".

Dr Li says that there are still obstacles to using these methods in other mammals, including the need to identify problematic imprinted genes that are unique to each species and concerns for the offspring that don't survive.

"This research shows us what's possible", he said.

'We also revealed some of the most important imprinted regions that hinder the development of mice with same sex parents, which are also interesting for studying genomic imprinting and animal cloning'.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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