Scientists have created mice with two fathers, suggesting that technology could one day be used to allow gay male couples the chance to have children with genes from both parents.
Researchers at the MD Anderson Cancer Centre in Texas used a series of steps to create the mice.
They manipulated stem cells from a male mouse (father A) to create ‘”male eggs” without the male Y chromosome. These were then put into embryos and transplanted into surrogate mother mice.
The resulting mice, which were all female, had genetic material from both father A and the donated eggs and sperm from the embryos. Some of the eggs they produced had only genetic material from father A.
They were then mated with another male (father B) and their offspring, both male and female, contained genetic material which came from only father A and father B.
The researchers admitted that the process was complicated but said that if it was refined, “someday two men could produce their own genetic sons and daughters”.
It could also be used for lesbians to have children.
“It may also be possible to generate sperm from a female donor and produce viable male and female progeny with two mothers,” researchers said.
Another use could be to preserve endangered species where no females remain.
The study was published this week in the journal Biology of Reproduction.
In 2008, researchers at the University of Newcastle created primitive sperm cells with female embryonic stem cells.