Using gene editing and stem cells, researchers in China have helped mice of the same sex bear pups. While this feat has been accomplished before with mouse moms, the new study marks the first time that pups from pairs of male mice were also carried to full term.
The technology is far from ready for the leap to humans. Though mice pups born from two females appeared healthy and bore their own young, pups with two papas died soon after birth. Of the 12 born, just two survived more than 48 hours.
Still, the new study, published [October 11] in the journal Cell Stem Cell, is an encouraging step toward a better understanding of the barriers that prevent such genetic coupling between individuals of the same sex. The work also raises a slew of ethical questions among experts, with the health of future offspring being the primary concern.
[I]f the technology develops under the right ethical and medical guidelines, it could give hope for same-sex couples to have genetically related children, imparting similar access to pregnancy assistance that other couples already have.
“I personally think that if we view the inability of opposite sex couples to reproduce as something that deserves technological intervention,” [professor Sonia] Suter says, “then it seems to me that I don’t think we can make a coherent argument against letting same sex couples do the same thing.”
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