Researchers at Cambridge University and the Weitzmann Institute in Israel have discovered a way to craft egg and sperm cells out of skin from two adults of the same sex.
It’s believed the technique—a boon to gay and lesbian couples, as well as infertile heterosexual couple—could begin being utilized as early as 2017.
According to the Daily Mail, skin cells from two males or females are used to create a stem cell that can then produce egg or sperm cells. These “germ” cells have shown no sign of epigenetic mutation, or mistakes having to do with the age of the cell, though scientists are not yet able to guarantee that no mutations will be passed on.
The research, published recently in Cell, has already come under fire from critics complaining it would lead to”designer babies.”
“I am not in favor of creating engineered humans,” noted Jacob Hanna, the scientist in charge of the study’s Israeli branch. “But I am very confident it will work and will be very relevant to anyone who has lost their fertility through disease.”
Hanna says the process “has already caused interest from gay groups because of the possibility of making egg and sperm cells from parents of the same sex.”
The use of manufactured sperm and egg cells would require a change in the law in most countries.