Researchers at the University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne have discovered how to grow human sperm cells from bone marrow.
The scientists have already cultivated sperm cells from a male’s bone marrow and are now seeking permission to replicate their experiment with female marrow.
If successful, the breakthrough could lead to a female couple being able to impregnate one partner’s eggs with sperm grown from the other’s bone marrow.
The Daily Mail reports that:”if the technology were abused, men could be completely sidelined.”
However, Professor Karim Nayernia, of Newcastle University’s North-East England Stem Cell Institute, emphasises that his research could be of most use to infertile men.
Creating a child using “female” sperm sperm would only produce daughters as the Y chromosome needed to result in a male foetus can only come from male sperm.
The concept of a child conceived by two women is possible, said Professor Nayernia.
“The problem is whether the sperm cells are functional or not. I don’t think there is an ethical barrier, so long as it’s safe,” he said, according to the Belfast Telegraph.
“We are in the process of applying for ethical approval. We are preparing now to apply to use the existing bone marrow stem cell bank here in Newcastle.
“We need permission from the patient who supplied the bone marrow, the ethics committee and the hospital itself.”
The government might ban the use of artificial sperm and eggs as part of an ongoing review of Britain’s fertility laws.
A ban is supported by the BMA amid fears that sub-standard sperm or eggs might produce children with serious health problems.
Experiments on rats with artificially created sperm led to successful births but the resulting children had shortened lifespans and health deficiencies.
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