Scientists are confirming that they successfully completed the first step of the process to allow same-sex couples to have their own biological children. The reality could hit as soon as two years in the future.
The stem cell research breakthrough is putting researchers at Cambridge University in England on the right path towards designing artificial sperm and eggs, according to ABC News.
Though the research was not initially intended to serve as a possibility to help same-sex couples have their own biological children, when the findings pointed them in that direction, it provided an unexpected bound forward for prospective same-sex parents.
Here is how the process happens naturally. When fertilized by a sperm, an egg cell begins dividing into a cluster of cells marking the early stage of the embryo. Some of these cells then form the fetus while others collect to create the placenta.
Stem cells, which can develop into any type of bodily cell, are created from those in the inner mass, and a small number of these then become sperm and egg cells, these will be able to pass down genetic information to offspring created from this material.
The new process would be done by reprogramming skin cells from adults and converting them into embryonic-like stem cells. These engineered stem cells were compared with human cells from fetuses to confirm they were in fact identical during the study.
If this process was used instead of natural conception, damaged genetic material could be prevented from being passed down. The findings from this study could change infertility and damaged genetics forever.
Although the studies are stemming from medical need and positive intentions, it realistically opens the door for very serious ethical and safety issues that need to be addressed and considered if this option were to become a viable possibility in the near future.
Researchers do realize that the prospect of creating a baby by these artificial means could raise concerns that the process will enable those who want a ‘designer baby’ to take control of its genetic makeup for unethical reasons.