Researchers are using mice to decipher the natural laws of mammal reproductions. The latest research on this topic had a massive breakthrough.
According to Forbes, scientists at the Chinese Academy of Sciences conducted a study to find out the challenges that have stopped mammals of the same-sex from being able to reproduce. More specifically, they were wondering why mammals are forced to reproduce through sexual reproduction when other species can reproduce by themselves or by changing their own sex.
"Although animals have 3 different reproduction modes, termed as asexual reproduction, unisexual reproduction and sexual reproduction, mammals can only undergo sexual reproduction. We were interested in the question of why mammals can only undergo sexual reproduction." said Qi Zhou, a senior author of the paper (which was published in Cell Stem Cell).
The results of the study created healthy mice from two mothers that were then able to produce healthy offspring themselves.
The way that they got those results was to use embroyonic stem cells (ESCs), which were haploid meaning they had half of the genetic material of a normal cell. This was to reflect the sperm or egg that a single parent would create.
Those ESCs were then altered through gene editing and then injected into the egg of a different female mouse.
After creating 210 embryos, the scientists were able to produce 29 healthy mice offspring. These 29 mice were able to mature properly and produce healthy offspring on their own.
That said, this is only the first stage in the research process for these scientists. The reserachers now plan to go back and dissect the imprinting modifications to ensure the survival of the offspring and any future generations.
After hearing of this research, there will surely be pushback and outrage. Many will claim that this research is playing with the laws of nature, but there are many reasons that the scientists are conducting the research. The first reason is to understand more about the reason mammals can’t asexually or unisexually reproduce. Then, there are potential benefits like understanding how to prevent infertility.
"One reason is to understand better how fertilization and embryonic development work. That could help understand and prevent some forms of infertility, as well as understanding (perhaps) the origins of some congenital diseases," said Hank Greely, Director of the Center for Law and the Biosciences and Professor of Law at Stanford University.
That said, LGBTQ readers may see another reason to support this research. It could eventually (and we’re talking decades here) “lead to the development of ways for same-sex couples to reproduce healthy children of their own,” according to Dr. Teresa Holm, a member of the University of Auckland’s Molecular Medicine and Pathology department.
Of course, she also told Telegraph that there are “significant ethical and safety concerns that would need to be overcome.”
While this is alarming and surprising news, it could lead to greater advances in health and fertility amongst humans. But, it will most assuredly cause controversy and conflict as well.