In A First, Healthy Mice Born From Same-sex Parents
In A First, Healthy Mice Born From Same-sex Parents
Image The breakthrough was made at the Chinese Academy of Sciences. Pic Leyun Wang
13 October, 2018, 16:57
Qi Zhou and his fellow researchers theorized that previous attempts to create babies with two genetic mothers were hampered by a process they call "imprinting", a molecular stamp that says which parent a certain gene comes from.
However, the method presents ethical and practical hurdles if this technology were to ever be considered for humans, the researchers said.
They produced 29 live mice from 210 embryos, with the animals living to adulthood and having offspring of their own. The mice were normal, lived to adulthood, and went on to have babies of their own.
However, she noted the current work was carried out in mice and involved a number of genetic modifications in embryonic stem cells.
The leading scientist of the research team, Dr.Wei Li, stated "this result showed us what is actually possible scientifically: the errors in the genetic coding can be eradicated from mice bred with two mothers". The scientists removed three imprinted regions from the DNA of a female ESC and injected them into the egg of a female partner to produce offspring from two moms.
A healthy adult "bimaternal" mouse.
The researchers said that one advantage of using haploid ESCs is that even before the problematic genes are knocked out, they contain less of the imprinting programming that ultimately causes maternal- or paternal-specific genes to be expressed. Co-senior author Baoyang Hu, M.D., Ph.D., adds, "We found in this study that haploid ESCs were more similar to primordial germ cells, the precursors of eggs and sperm".
They were also able to create 12 live mice with two fathers, but those pups survived only two days, indicating there were greater challenges for successful reproduction using two male parents.
"If the research is reproducible, and also works in humans, it still has to be shown to be safe,"Bob Williamson, the chair of the Board of Stem Cells Australia, said". This created embryos containing only genomic DNA from the two males, and these embryos were then transferred to surrogate mothers.
The researchers in China have noted that there are still obstacles in achieving their feat with other mammals.
She told The Sun: "Animal mothers are subjected to surgical procedures in order to harvest their eggs and implant the engineered embryos, many pregnancies fail, and the animals who are born are commonly forced to live with unintended debilitating conditions, such as missing eyes or ears, skin ulcers, deformed body parts, deafness, seizures, and heart failure, to name just a few".
"Sorry, chaps, you're obsolete": that may as well have been the headline of an announcement that gripped the research community on Thursday, as the birth was revealed of the world's first mammal born to two mothers.
They survived only 48 hours after birth, despite a complicated process of gene manipulation meant to eliminate abnormalities resulting from the same-sex reproductive process.
The team concentrated on roughly 100 genes that are activated when they come from both parents, but rely on each other for correct development.
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