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Babies may be made without women

~Vanguard Nigeria. Sunday, September 18, 2016.

Experiments by Bath University researchers hint at a future in which children are born from embryos made from skin cells rather than eggs.

The embryos could even be nurtured outside the body in artificial wombs, making women redundant from the creation of life. The hi-tech IVF treatment would allow two men to have a baby that is genetically their own. It could also allow a man to have his own child - without any input from another man or woman.

A technique that allowed babies to be created without eggs would also be seized on by older women desperate to become mothers, and by girls whose fertility has been damaged by treatment for cancer. Researcher Tony Perry stressed that such scenarios were 'entirely speculative and fanciful'. But publicising his work in the Nature Communications journal, he added: 'If it is ever possible, one day in the distant future people will look back and say this is where it started.'

His excitement centres on experiments which showed it is possible to fuse sperm with something other than Experiments by Bath University researchers hint at a future in which children are born from embryos made from skin cells rather than eggs. an egg and produce a litter of healthy mice. Starting with eggs, Dr Perry used chemicals to trick them into beginning to turn into embryos. These would normally die, but when Dr Perry injected them with mouse sperm, many lived and went on to form healthy baby mice. Some of those mice even went on to have pups of their own.

The discovery is important because an embryo is very different to an egg and actu- ally has a lot in common with a skin cell, suggesting that skin cells could one day be fused with sperm to create babies. Dr Perry cautioned that this was still many years away, but added: 'Our work challenges the dogma… that only an egg cell fertilised with a sperm cell can result in live mammalian birth.

'What we are talking about is different ways of making embryos. Imagine that you could take skin cells and make embryos from them. This would have all kinds of utility.' Professor Robin Lovell-Badge, an embryologist from The Francis Crick Institute in London, said: 'I'm not surprised that the authors are excited about this. It is a very interesting paper, and a technical tour de force.' But Dr Trevor Stammers, a bioethicist at St Mary's University in London, accused the researchers of raising false hope among the infertile by 'taking speculative leaps into the unknown'.

Josephine Quintavalle, of campaign group Comment on Reproductive Ethics, questioned why fertility treatment needed to go to such lengths when there were so many children waiting to be adopted.

Dr Paul Colville-Nash, of Medical Research Council, which funded the study, said: 'This is exciting research which may help us to understand more about how human life begins.'

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