A new fertilization technique could one day be used to allow same sex couples to produce children who are genetically related to both of them. The technique would be able to produce an egg from a man’s sperm cells, while a sperm cell would be able to be created from a woman’s egg. At this time, the technique has yet to be tried on humans.
The research is being conducted by geneticists at George Washington University. So far, their findings have already been published in the Journal of Law and Biosciences. This technology could result in cases of multiplex patenting, in which children would have more than two parents or just one biological parent.
According to George Washington University geneticist Dr. Sonia Suter the technique is called in-vitro gametogenesis, and it could be more preferable to alternative fertility treatments in many circumstances. However, it could also be problematic if it were to be used by aspiring single parents.
Dr. Suter said, “We have minimal knowledge about the implications. The only way to demonstrate the effectiveness and safety of these techniques in humans is to use in vitro gametes to try to produce viable offspring in controlled settings, when and if we deem it sufficiently safe to do so.”
According to Dr. George Ndukwe, the medical director of the leading London fertility clinic Zita West, the technique was “wonderful science”, but it could also lead to controversies in the idea of parenthood.
Dr. Ndukwe said, “There are possible uses of it, which in my opinion can be useful. For instance, for somebody who has no sperm at all or a woman who has no egg, if you can use any of their cells to create sperm or eggs then they can have treatment, so to use it in that way specifically for treatment, in my opinion may have some benefits. It would completely challenge our notion of parenthood with very complex legal implications. That’s where it gets very scary.”
For now, the scientists will continue their research to see what new breakthroughs they can produce.