In only five years, it may be feasible to create human infants in a lab from scratch thanks to a recent development.nIn order to generate human eggs and sperm in an artificial womb, researchers in Japan are preparing to start from scratch in the lab.nProfessor Katsuhiko Hayashi of Kyushu University in Japan, who has already found out how to accomplish it in mice, believes it will only take five years before the outcomes can be repeated in people. nHowever, since it allows for the birth of children at any age, there are ethical issues. In order to create the concept of a purportedly ideal kid, parents may also desire to use gene-editing methods to designate specific features for their children. n
Professor Katsuhiko Hayashi of Kyushu University (pictured), a Japanese scientist who has already figured out how to use IVG in mice, suspected it would take five years to produce egg-like cells from humans
Dr. Hayashi and his team recently created seven mice with two male biological parents, using skin cells from a male mouse to form a viable egg and then fertilize it.
The ability to produce custom human sperm and egg cells in the lab is called in vitro gametogenesis (IVG).
It works by taking cells from a person’s blood or skin and reprogramming them into induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS cells).
In theory, these cells can become any cell in the body, including egg and sperm cells.
They can then be used to create embryos and implant them in women’s wombs.
Scientists have been able to create very basic human eggs and sperm this way, but have not yet been able to create embryos.
Dr. Hayashi guessed it would take five years to produce egg-like cells from humans, with another 10-20 years of testing before doctors find the process safe to use in clinics.
Professor Henry Greely of Stanford University told us free thinking he estimated that researchers will need another five to 10 years to arrive at a reliable proof of concept, plus a decade or two for safety testing.
Jeanne Loring, a researcher at the Scripps Research Institute, said IVG in human reproduction The New York Times in 2017: ‘I wouldn’t be surprised if it was five years, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it were 25 years.’
It would mean that scientists could, for example, generate sperm and eggs for infertile people from one of their blood cells.
About one in 10 couples in the US struggle to conceive — and some of those are same-sex couples or hopeful single parents who rely on donated sperm or eggs, IVF and, in some cases, surrogates.
But there are still many ethical, legal and safety questions surrounding IVG.
Some ethicists worry that closing the door on infertility could quickly open the floodgates to designer babies, eugenics, and legal problems that our society may be unwilling to solve.
It could allow people to steal other people’s DNA by using a lock of hair and make babies without their consent.
In 2016, Japanese researchers created stem cells using eight-week-old mice, choosing those that had dropped a Y chromosome for some reason.
Scientists then manipulated the cells in a way to copy the remaining X chromosome and create a cell with two X genes – what would usually be considered a female cell.
“The biggest trick of this is the duplication of the X chromosome,” said Dr Hayashi.
They turned those cells into eggs and used sperm from male mice to fertilize them in the lab.
The process led to the birth of more than half a dozen healthy mouse pups.
Dr. Hayashi told the New Scientist he believes the door is now open to children born to two fathers.
The goal is to mimic the same process with human cells.
‘Purely technically it will be possible [in humans] even in 10 years,” he told The Guardian.
‘I don’t know if they will be available for reproduction.
‘That is not only a question for the scientific education, but also for [society].’