Making eggs and sperm from stem cells would create ‘ethical, social and legal conundrums’

same sex
Image: Lucy Nicholson/Reuters

Until recently, the only way to make eggs or sperm was the old-fashioned way: in the ovaries and testes. In the not-too-distant future, it may be possible to use cells from almost any part of the body to create these germ cells, also known as gametes.

This process, called in vitro gametogenesis (IVG), raises the possibility that babies could be made using muscle or liver or blood cells. While not yet ready for prospective human parents — so far it has only been accomplished successfully in mice — it raises major ethical and legal questions that we should start thinking and talking about now.

Related article:  'A real mystery': Why hasn't anyone attempted to make a cloned human baby?

IVG could lead to a dizzying array of reproductive possibilities. In a female-female couple, for example, skin cells from one partner could be turned into sperm cells used to fertilize the other partner’s eggs. 

The ethical, social, and legal conundrums surrounding stem-cell derived human gametes are vast and require close and careful consideration, not only by experts and scholars but by the public as well. We are all stakeholders in the future of reproduction, and should begin talking about this new technology and its implications now.

Read full, original post: Creating eggs and sperm from stem cells: the next big thing in assisted reproduction?

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