Recent findings by a group of scientists from the Kyoto University Institute for Integrated Cell-Material Sciences (iCeMS) have taken the scientific world by storm, by announcing a stem cell discovery made that will allow gay people to create their own eggs that could be used in a surrogate birth. The discovery raises numerous questions about the findings, as well as its potential uses and abuses.
The new results will allow gay men to create an egg of their own, instead of having to use a donated egg from a female donor, thereby allowing creation of a child born with both parents’ DNA, not just the DNA of one of the men and the DNA from the egg donor, as is currently the case. This finding has the potential to invigorate the LGBT community, and whispers of its use in this manner are already beginning.
The Japanese research team, led by Mitinori Saitou of Kyoto University in Japan, said that they had finally attained their seemingly insurmountable objective, creating eggs from embryonic stem cells, as well as producing eggs that will become healthy offspring.
The new technique used bio-engineered eggs fertilized in-vitro with sperm which was also created from stem cells, and then implanted into mice. The resulting pregnancy produced healthy mice, and so far, this accomplishment is a rousing success.
The embryonic stem cells used in the study were a different kind of stem cell than what is usually discussed, which are umbilical cord stem cells. This differing type of stem cell, referred to as “induced pluripotent stem cells,” can be obtained from the skin cells of a mouse or a human. This brings the debate over potential uses and abuses to the forefront. The discovery could lead to cloning of humans without the need for either a man or a woman. Depending upon point of view, this can be termed either abuse or groundbreaking new use.
The fact that this discovery has been attained could lead to wondrous uses for this new, emerging technology. This will be a boon for older women that wish to have children later in life, because of a new marriage or for whatever other reason. Women with infertility issues, such as inability to create viable eggs or who suffer from miscarriage. Bio-engineered eggs made from stem cells could be created and refined to eliminate these problems, giving affected women hope.
This discovery could also lead to gay men in same-sex relationships having the ability to create an offspring completely from just the two donors’ DNA. Skin cells from one of the men could be used to create the egg and sperm, or sperm created from the skin cells of the other man can be used to fertilize the egg in-vitro, leaving only the surrogate uterus for implantation on the table.
If scientists ever discover a way to create a viable womb that eliminates the need for a women’s uterus, it would be a shocking discovery, one that may lead us down a path of no return.
As with all things, this discovery is not a question of if, only when.
It would appear that this is the next avenue for discovery for the Kyoto Team, and it’s very likely that another research facility is already currently researching this eventuality, and that it will be attained someday.
Someday will be here soon enough.
Opinion by Jim Donahue.