Gay men may one day be able to have a baby together without the need of a female egg, a new study has revealed.
The research conducted by fertility experts at Bath University has found that it’s possible to create an embryo by fusing skin cells with sperm – suggesting the female half may not be needed.
A woman would still have to act as a surrogate to carry the baby, but the study found that it was possible to conceive healthy mice using other types of cells and sperm.
Lead scientist and molecular embryologist, Dr Tony Perry, said that using mice showed the technique worked in principle.
“Our work challenges the dogma, held since early embryologists first observed mammalian eggs around 1827 and observed fertilisation 50 years later, that only an egg cell fertilised with a sperm cell can result in live mammalian birth,” he said.
Though he added there was still much more work to be done before it was considered feasible in humans.
30 mice were born using the technique and about a quarter of those births proved successful.
“The practical applications of this as the technology stands at the moment are not very broad,” said Dr Perry.
“What we’re saying is that these embryos are mitotic cells – mitotic cells are the type of cell that almost every dividing cell in your body is.
“And therefore potentially one day we might be able to extend what we’ve shown in these mitotic cells to other mitotic cells.
“Will we be able to do that? I don’t know. But I think, if it is ever possible, one day in the distant future people will look back and say this is where it started.”
As well as making it possible for gay men to have children together, it’s also believed the technique could help to cure infertility for men and women or for cancer patients who cannot have children due to chemotherapy.
Last year, research from Cambridge University suggested it was possible to fuse two sperm cells together and still create a viable embryo. It’s believed this could help gay men both be the biological parents to a child, though a female egg would still be required.