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The Birth Of The Biological Single Parent – Science




The latest advances in stem-cell research mean someone could some day become a biological single parent, the source of both the egg and the sperm needed to make a baby.

“In theory, a single individual could be both mother and father to a child. The individual does not even have to be living if there is a stored sample of their cells,” the University of Alberta’s Tim Caulfield and his colleagues write in a paper in the journal Cell Stem Cell.

Their paper, The Challenge of Regulating Rapidly Changing Science: Stem Cell Legislation in Canada, documents how the speed and unpredictability of scientific advances in the stem-cell field pose a challenge to policy makers.

For example, scientists in a number of countries are now able to turn adult skin cells into stem cells. Once they have been reprogrammed, these cells regain the superhero-like powers of embryonic stem cells and can be turned into many of the specialized cells that make up the human body, including blood, brain or muscle cells.

But what if some of the reprogrammed stem cells originally taken from an individual were coaxed into becoming sperm, while others were transformed into eggs?

It hasn’t happened yet, but research suggests it is possible, Dr. Caulfield says.

Egg and sperm created from stem cells from one person could be used to create an embryo, which could then be transferred to the womb of the mom-pop, or in the case of a pop-mom, a surrogate mother.

The result could be something “very strange and dangerous,” warns Shinya Yamanaka, the Japanese stem-cell pioneer who discovered how to reprogram adult skin cells to stem cells. His breakthrough made headlines around the world in 2007.

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1 response to The Birth Of The Biological Single Parent – Science

  1. Well… actually this happens now.. Its rare, but has presence in medical literature under the lable – ‘immaculate conception’ (no joke… a REAL medical label). The cost of producing such offspring would be high and the returns dubious unless the individual hosted extra-special DNA attributes someone wanted to secure against tainting by mixed DNA from another source that would diminish the target attributes. For instance, USA and Israeli geneticists have for many years now attained remarkable success at identifying and enhancing DNA attributes attached to high intuitive traits and other favored genetic attributes.

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