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Your Skin Cells Could Make a Baby, Will This Be the End of Infertility?


We all know where babies come from. An egg is fertilized by sperm and the resulting
zygote needs to be implanted in a uterus so it can grow and divide. The key here is the union of the gametes:
sperm and egg. This means same-sex partners, or partners
who are unable to provide gametes themselves, need to rely on donors. But what if that wasn’t the case? What if we could just generate gametes from
the partners? Soon, we might be able to. The method is called in-vitro gametogenesis. It involves converting adult cells into lab-made
eggs and sperm cells that can combine to create a zygote. This could pave the way for two adults of
any sex or gender to combine their DNA and produce their own biological offspring. The first breakthrough came in 2012 when researchers
working with mice successfully. reprogrammed skin cells to behave like embryonic
stem cells, known as induced pluripotent stem cells. Then, in the lab, those cells were stimulated
to turn from stem cells into sperm or egg cells. And to make sure the eggs were mature, they
had to implant them into mouse ovaries. But, to make this viable for IVG, they needed
to turn those lab-created cells into mature egg cells OUTSIDE a living mammal. Which was very complex in itself and finally
completed in 2016. Once they’d figured that out, the team followed
basic IVF procedure: the skin-cell-created egg cell was fertilized in the lab using sperm
cells also made from skin cells, completing the full cycle. The resulting zygotes were implanted in a
mouse. The test saw 26 healthy pups born from the
experiment, and some of those even had babies of their own, showing their genetic material
was undamaged. But, before you get too excited, the process
is technically challenging. Only 3.5 percent of the embryos created from
artificial eggs cells matured into pups while the cells that were matured inside a mouse
had a 60 percent rate of success. For the moment, this tech hasn’t led to
human experiments yet. Scientists are working with human induced
pluripotent stem cells to understand how they work differently than mouse cells when becoming
eggs, but there’s an added complication: that fertilizing human eggs is forbidden by
Japanese ethics guidelines, even for research. Nevertheless, the implications behind this
technology are incredible. If scientists can prove this is safe and effective,
then someday, couples who can’t naturally conceive could gain the ability to become
biological parents to a child. And if this sounds futuristic, scary, and
unnatural, consider IVF. IVF was scary and unnatural when it was first
used, too. Terms like “test-tube baby” hit the media
that are now considered inappropriate or offensive. These days, no one bats an eye when couples
use whatever means they have to conceive, and IVG could be the solution for couples
that IVF can’t help, effectively ending infertility. If you’re trying to conceive, consider keeping
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domain names and web hosting when you use coupon code SEEKER at checkout. For more super cool science news, be sure
to subscribe, curing infertility is important, did you know sperm counts are dropping for
men in the West? Find out what we know, here. Another awesome implication of IVG — a single
person could be the biological parents of a child!

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