Saturday, March 21, 2015

Get Ready for Embryos From Two Men or Two Women

Get Ready for Embryos From Two Men or Two Women

Time | March 18, 2015

Genetic research is advancing to the day when gay couples could fulfill their dreams of having children related to them both.

I’ve helped many same-sex couples over the years have children of their own through assisted reproductive procedures. Egg donation and surrogacy allow two gay men to have children genetically related to one partner and the egg donor, but not to both. It’s the same dynamic for lesbians and sperm donors. I’ve been asked many times by countless same-sex couples over the years: “can we make a baby that’s a combination of both of us?”

It’s a question that I’ve considered from a scientific and medical perspective for a long time. Advances in genetic research keep getting us closer to the day when the answer to that question is “yes.”

Throughout history, a child has come from a man and a woman. It’s been one of the tenets of anti-gay activists for decades: “Two men can’t have a biological child, and two women can’t have one either.”

For some anti-gay people, that seems to make these relationships somehow wrong, as though any relationship that can’t result in a child should somehow be forbidden. They deem it unnatural in the eyes of God.

However, science is advancing and may ultimately change all of that.

Stem cell research has demonstrated that human skin cells and fibroblasts (a different kind of adult cell) can be turned into embryonic stem cells. Now, researchers at Cambridge University and the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel have shown that embryonic stem cells can be programmed to form primordial germ cells. These are the stem cells that can go on to form either eggs or sperm. If scientists can figure out how to turn a primordial germ cell that originated from the skin of a man into an egg, could it be fertilized with his partner’s sperm?


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