Madinat al-Muslimeen Islamic Message Board
|Eggs fertilised without sperm|
|07/13/01 at 14:09:19|
|Scientists in Australia have found a way to fertilise eggs |
using genetic material from any cell in the body - and not just sperm.
The technique could potentially help infertile couples to have
Theoretically, it also could mean that lesbian couples could give birth
to a baby girl without the need for a father. Women do not carry the
genetic information required to make a boy.
The technique has been developed by Dr Orly Lacham-Kaplan, from Monash
University in Melbourne.
She told the BBC that her team had been able to successfully fertilise
mice eggs in lab cultures using other cells in the body known as
Until now, this has not been possible because somatic cells contain two
sets of chromosomes, while sperm cells only contain one set.
The Monash team used chemical techniques to get rid of the spare set of
To do this, they mimicked the process that takes place during normal
fertilisation when two sets of chromosomes in an egg are separated and
one is ejected, leaving the remaining set to combine with the single set
from the sperm.
However, they will not know if the embryos were viable until they were
transferred to foster mothers for further development.
"We will then have to wait to see if any live and healthy babies are
born following those transfers.
"Within the next six to eight months I believe we will have the answer,
and see whether this technology can go further and be used maybe in
Dr Lacham-Kaplan said she had started her work to help men who were
unable to have children because they had no sperm, or germ cells with the
potential to become sperm.
But she added: "Theoretically, we can use somatic cells from a female
to produce the same embryo.
"So two women who wish to have their own biological children would be
able maybe to use this technology to achieve that aim."
However, this could prove problematical as aspects of development are
controlled by a paternal gene.
Fertility expert Professor Robert Winston told the BBC: "This is
actually genuinely revolutionary and potentially very important.
"The real advantage of this technique is for men who cannot produce
sperm. Hitherto, it has always been said they could clone themselves.
"The beauty of this technique is that it makes cloning completely
unnecessary. This actually is a much better technique and ethically much
more acceptable because you have chromosomes from two partners."
Professor Winston said it was theoretically possible for a person to
reproduce themselves using the technique. However, the use of chromosomes
from the same person massively increased the risk that a baby would
suffer from genetic defects.
The Society for the Protection of the Unborn Child (SPUC) was outraged
by the technique.
A spokesman said: "The proliferation of novel ways to produce embryos
is increasingly reducing the human being to a commodity in many people's
"We believe the interests of the child come before the wishes of anyone
else, including the parents. We shall be calling for a moratorium on
this kind of development."
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