The Loh Down On Science

Equal Opportunity Fertilizer

Researchers explore ways to turn stem cells from either sex into sperm.

Male moms, female dads?

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science

saying until now having a baby's been pretty straightforward. Woman makes egg, man makes sperm, DNA combine. Voila, new person. Or at least, that's all we can describe on a family show. But Professor Karim Nayernia at Newcastle University in the UK thinks that's not quite fair. Why shouldn't men make eggs, or women make sperm?

The key is in stem cells--cells with the potential to develop into any tissue of the body.

Nayernia's team extracted adult stem cells from human bone marrow and coaxed them into becoming a precursor of human sperm called SPERMATAGONIAL CELLS. The gender of the person donating the cells didn't matter.

In earlier experiments with mice, this same type of cell was injected into male testes and began developing into sperm.

When experiments started with EMBRYONIC stem cells, actual sperm cells were created--and THOSE little swimmers eventually produced several baby mice.

If Nayernia's research with humans works as well, it could one day help lesbian and gay couples have their own biological children.

From there the sitcoms just write themselves. "Here's a story--!"


blog comments powered by Disqus