A few years ago, American expert Shao Yue witnessed an incredible scene while working in a laboratory at the University of Michigan. The cells he was studying seemed to organize themselves into something that looked similar to the developing human body.
According to reports, scientists may have taken the first step in creating human life. Although this idea is shocking, Shao Yue’s discovery is not the first. A year before he published his findings in 2017, a Japanese research team created live baby mice using eggs formed from adult mouse skin cells.
Discoveries such as these are taking us closer to solving some of the toughest questions in reproductive biology and medicine. By recreating the first steps of life in the laboratory, researchers are unraveling the secrets of the earliest stages of pregnancy – a poorly understood fragile stage where most miscarriages and infertility treatments fail.
Hank Greeley of Stanford Law School says that once sperm and eggs can be produced in the laboratory from skin cells, people in rich countries with robust health care systems may no longer even have sex for the purpose of having children.
Greeley foresees that in the future, expectant parents will be able to make appointments with doctors at local fertility clinics. A small sample of skin cells is used to generate stem cells that can harvest sperm and eggs, and then create dozens or even hundreds or thousands of well-growing embryos. After genetic screening, parents can select the one they want to transplant into the womb.
According to reports, in this way, the painful, invasive and expensive process of retrieving eggs for in vitro fertilization will no longer be necessary. Additionally, people who are unable to produce their own sperm or eggs can have children who are genetically related to them. The same goes for same-sex couples.
However, such technology also brings serious problems, the report said. While genetic screening can rule out the possibility that a fetus will have a genetic disorder, it also opens the door to sex selection and other choices for non-medical reasons. While this type of information is currently available, its applications are limited. We currently don’t know enough about how subtle genetic differences end up affecting things like IQ.