Future without women? ‘Pseudo-embryos’ could one day replace eggs in baby making process
Motherless babies could be on the horizon after scientists discovered a method of creating offspring without the need for a female egg.
Scientists say early experiments suggest it may one day be possible to make babies without using eggs.
They have succeeded in creating healthy baby mice by tricking sperm into believing they were fertilizing normal eggs.
The findings in Nature Communications, could, in the distant future, mean women can be removed from the baby-making process, say the researchers.
For now, the work helps to explain some of the details of fertilisation.
End of mum and dad?
The University of Bath scientists started with an unfertilised egg in their experiments.
They used chemicals to trick it into becoming a pseudo-embryo.
These “fake” embryos share much in common with ordinary cells, such as skin cells, in the way they divide and control their DNA.
The researchers reasoned that if injecting sperm into mouse pseudo-embryos could produce healthy babies, then it might one day be possible to achieve a similar result in humans using cells that are not from eggs.
In the mouse experiments, the odds of achieving a successful pregnancy was one in four.
Dr Tony Perry, one of the researchers, said “This is the first time that anyone has been able to show that anything other than an egg can combine with a sperm in this way to give rise to offspring.
“It overturns nearly 200 years of thinking.”
Those baby mice were healthy, had a normal life expectancy and had healthy pups of their own.