Image by Getty / Futurism

It's finally happened — scientists have brought about the birth of baby mice using stem cells from two males.

As Agence France-Presse reports, a team of Japanese scientists used tail skin cells from two male mice to father a litter of seven babies. The research builds on the team's prior studies in which they were able to make eggs out of skin cells from a single female mouse and subsequently bring to term a litter of healthy mice "pups."

In their new paper published in the journal Nature, the team outline how it was able to turn the harvested stem cells into "pluripotent" cells, which have the ability to be transformed into any other type of cell. The process caused one of the X chromosomes in their XY cells to be lost, leaving the single X or "XO" chromosomes.

From there, they used a mixture of the reversine drug and a fluorescent protein to duplicate the single X chromosome, thus making the XX set necessary for eggs to be formed.

After making said eggs, the Japanese scientists then fertilized them with sperm from a different male mouse and implanted them into female surrogate mice to gestate and bring to term the pups.

While this is undoubtedly a big achievement, the process has only had a one percent success rate, given that out of 630 attempts, only seven mice were born. What's more: only about six percent of the initial male mice cells were even able to lose one of their X chromosomes in the first place.

When presenting his findings to the Third International Summit on Human Genome Editing in London last week, Hayashi noted that there's a long, long way to go before this process will be ready for human use.

"There is a big difference between a mouse and a human," the scientist said.

Still, this research represents a major milestone that could one day lead to gay male couples being able to have biological children together.

In an interview with AFP, Nitzan Gonen of Israel's Bar-Ilan University, who was not involved in the study, called the paper "revolutionary," but added that it's "extremely inefficient" due to the low success rate.

Gonen said that eventually, this process could be used for a single man to provide both the egg and the sperm for a child, which would be "a bit more like cloning, like what they did with Dolly the sheep."

The Israeli scientist said that if she were to wager a guess, this technology would be ready for human use in the ballpark of ten to 15 years.

All the same, there could still be ethical considerations to take into account, Gonent warned.

"The fact that we can do something does not necessarily mean we want to do it," she told AFP, "especially when we are talking about a new human being."

More on gene editing: Scientist Who Gene Edited Human Babies Says Mistakes Were Made

Share This Article