Tuesday, February 7, 2017 2:41 pm
By Grace Essen
There is really no end to what is possible with the advancement in technology. In what can easily be termed a landmark achievement, a team of British researchers led by Dr Tony Perry have managed to conceive baby mice without fertilizing an egg cell with sperm which you and I know is the natural, highly popular and acceptable way of producing offsprings. The technique involved fusing the sperm cell with ordinary cells derived from skin or other tissue to create viable embryos , a reprogrammed process of what scientists previously thought could only occur as a result of egg fertilization.
In the study, 30 mouse pups were born with a success rate of 24% compared to the 1% to 2% success rate for offspring created by the Dolly the Sheep method of cloning by transferring DNA to donated eggs.
Now it is possible or safer to say, almost possible that babies can now be made without mothers, meaning that sperm and skin cells or any other kind of non-egg cell might be all you need for conception! Ha! So where does that leave mothers?
If this ‘breakthrough’ is anything to go, by here is what we are likely to expect: it could allow gay men to have babies with each other or let a man fertilize his own cells to produce offspring containing a mixture of genes inherited from him and his parents.The technique could allow women whose fertility has been wiped out by cancer drugs or radiotherapy to have their own children, or even aid the preservation of endangered species, since it avoids the need to recover eggs.
Futursim.com gives us more insights to what is possible with this technique: “Obviously, IVG is revolutionary for the field of fertility medicine. It gives infertile people hope, especially those who are unable to have children because of cancer treatment. For example, collecting skin cells from patients undergoing chemotherapy means scientists can turn them into healthy eggs or sperm in case they become infertile as a result of treatment.
In short, the technique could render egg donors obsolete. For couples undergoing fertility treatments, they no longer have to choose from just a handful of viable embryos, they could potentially select from a bigger pool. It also makes the biological process of conceiving more democratic. Theoretically, the method can be used to produce egg cells from male skin cells, making it possible for a baby to be created from same-sex couples.
It’s important to note that the technology is still in its infancy. Creating eggs from skin cells is a possibility, but at this point, there is still some work to be done before it is truly viable in humans. The success of the mouse model, however, illustrates the opportunities that this technique could offer.”
Let’s take alook at some ethical issues or possible consequences that might be associated with this technique and Futurism.com has some good thoughts on this:
“For instance, should the procedure eventually become accessible and inexpensive, we could face the possibility of ‘embryo farming,’ which for some, puts a focus on how this method can devalue human life. Perceived advantages, like making it possible for parents to select from a bigger pool of embryos, also has obvious downsides—like high-tech enabled eugenics.
Combined with advances in gene editing technology, it raises ethical concerns regarding human enhancement and designer babies. And with IVG theoretically making it possible for a baby to have three or more genetic parents, it raises questions regarding the legal rights and responsibilities of each parent.
It’s difficult to predict when technology like this will be ready for use in humans. Right now, any efforts to replicate the same results in primates or humans has proved unsuccessful. But the study is steadily moving forward, and as the authors pointed out: With science and medicine hurtling forward at breakneck speed, the rapid transformation of reproductive and regenerative medicine may surprise us. Before the inevitable, society will be well advised to strike and maintain a vigorous public conversation on the ethical challenges of IVG.”
As cheery as this news might sound, it would not be out of place to put into consideration the fact that this technique might sort of disrupt the natural process of child conception and child birth and we are likely to have more babies who are motherless even before they are born! In a society where children are growing up irresponsible more than ever before even with mummies are around, what’s going to become of them and by extension the society when they do not have mummies?
I want to believe that the need for a ‘mother’ is beyond just conceiving and carrying the baby through pregnancy, the task of nurturing and instilling values in children as they grow is a service to God and to humanity. When a baby is ‘created’ to not have a mother, who plays this God-given role?!
Well, maybe some of us who are a bit concerned about this might find some respite in the statement by Dr Perry: “This is speculative – it’s entirely speculative and fanciful.”
Grace Essen is an author, speaker and host of Super Mum Makeover workshop. Check out Grace’s website @Mum2MumAfrica.comYou may reach Grace on 08061367203, or via email: [email protected] Follow her on twitter @GraceEssen, find her on Facebook.