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Pre-2008 Posts

All Female Conception One Step Closer

Women might soon be able to produce sperm in a development that could allow lesbian couples to have their own biological daughters, according to a pioneering study published today.

Scientists are seeking ethical permission to produce synthetic sperm cells from a woman’s bone marrow tissue after showing that it possible to produce rudimentary sperm cells from male bone-marrow tissue.

The researchers said they had already produced early sperm cells from bone-marrow tissue taken from men. They believe the findings show that it may be possible to restore fertility to men who cannot naturally produce their own sperm.

But the results also raise the prospect of being able to take bone-marrow tissue from women and coaxing the stem cells within the female tissue to develop into sperm cells, said Professor Karim Nayernia of the University of Newcastle upon Tyne.

Creating sperm from women would mean they would only be able to produce daughters because the Y chromosome of male sperm would still be needed to produce sons. The latest research brings the prospect of female-only conception a step closer.

“Theoretically is it possible,” Professor Nayernia said. “The problem is whether the sperm cells are functional or not. I don’t think there is an ethical barrier, so long as it’s safe. We are in the process of applying for ethical approval. We are preparing now to apply to use the existing bone marrow stem cell bank here in Newcastle. We need permission from the patient who supplied the bone marrow, the ethics committee and the hospital itself.”

If sperm cells can be developed from female bone-marrow tissue they will be matured in the laboratory and tested for their ability to penetrate the outer “shell” of a hamster’s egg – a standard fertility test for sperm.

“We want to test the functionality of any male and female sperm that is made by this way,” Professor Nayernia said. But he said there was no intention at this stage to produce female sperm that would be used to fertilise a human egg, a move that would require the approval of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority.

The immediate aim is to see if female bone marrow can be lured into developing into the stem cells that can make sperm cells. The ultimate aim is to discover if these secondary stem cells can then be made into other useful tissues of the body, he said.

The latest findings, published in the journal Reproduction: Gamete Biology, show that male bone marrow can be used to make the early “spermatagonial ” stem cells that normally mature into fully developed sperm cells.

“Our next goal is to see if we can get the spermatagonial stem cells to progress to mature sperm in the laboratory and this should take around three to five years of experiments,” Professor Nayernia said.

Last year, Professor Nayernia led scientists at the University of Gottingen in Germany who became the first to produce viable artificial sperm from mouse embryonic stem cells, which were used to produce seven live offspring.

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Discussion

13 thoughts on “All Female Conception One Step Closer

  1. It’s about time! Too bad the Patriarchy will never let it happen.

    Posted by Linda Shonik | April 15, 2007, 1:24 am
  2. I don’t think is the wonderful miracle some feminists might. Why do we have to be mothers? Why do our children have to be biologically related to us and to our monogamous partner? These are patriarchal values, not feminist values. As feminists aren’t we supposed to challenge those?

    Enough with the reproductive technology! Yes they all say it’s about increasing wimmin’s choices, it’s the great altruistic science, but that’s crap! It is about men gaining greater control over reproduction/humanity/science. And too often we are fooled into supporting things (like repro tech) that perpetuate male-dominance (by enabling men to profit from the tech, enabling them to gain access to wimmin’s bodies to experiment on, and keeping wimmin in roles they approve of such as motherhood) because they throw us a bone: “ooh here you go ladies, we’ll give you our sacred sperm, aren’t you lucky!?”

    Posted by Sazz | April 15, 2007, 6:16 am
  3. Hm amazing what bone marrow can do, however I kinda aggree with the poster above “Too bad the Patriarchy will never let it happen.”

    Posted by Elizabeth | April 15, 2007, 7:17 am
  4. “Why do our children have to be biologically related to us and to our monogamous partner?”

    Perpetuation of the species.

    Posted by Linda Shonik | April 15, 2007, 7:35 am
  5. I thought they already had been able to achieve reproduction with two ova (and yes, would be XX only, not a baaaad thing that)?

    Yes Sazz, I don’t think that children/parenting instincts have to be about those biologically related. My two felines are ‘my babies’.

    Besides, humans (apart from nuking the whole planet) are in no danger of extinction (from lack of breeding), so I agree that all this focus on reproductive technology is a waste of time/money.

    Posted by stormy | April 15, 2007, 7:48 am
  6. ***I thought they already had been able to achieve reproduction with two ova (and yes, would be XX only, not a baaaad thing that)?***

    Last I read (and it’s not up-to-date), from Made to Order: The Myth of Reproductive and Genetic Progress ed. by Patricia Spallone and Deborah Lynn Steinberg, 2 eggs can be fused to create an embryo, but the embryo doesn’t develop due to lack of placenta. Fusion of 2 sperm yields placenta, but no embryo. So, yeah, it’s possible to reproduce with 2 ova, but only to the embryo stage right now.

    Posted by Branjor | April 15, 2007, 11:17 am
  7. Sazz, I hear you– a hearty and resounding NIX on the “reproductive technologies” which invariably means mining women’s bodies for whatever is “harvestable” and then subjecting our bodies to more and more violation and dangerous procedures. In order to get this sperm, women would have to have bone marrow removed from their bodies. :/ And it makes no sense to forget that these experiments were done in the hopes of helping infertile men. :/

    I can’t help but find the possibility of women being able to have girl babies together a bit positive anyhow though!

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | April 15, 2007, 11:42 am
  8. There are so many children in the world that need a home right now, and loving parents. Even if this is scientifically possible, I am not sure that it should be a major concern of science right now. I do understand that it would help people who desire a child of their own genetic make-up, but I think that there are so many other things that can be done with bone marrow (life-saving things like curing illness).

    Posted by anitakay | April 15, 2007, 6:47 pm
  9. The whole idea gives me the heebie jeebies, but I do have to chuckle at the ramifications of “Creating sperm from women would mean they would only be able to produce daughters”.

    Posted by manxome | April 16, 2007, 3:22 am
  10. Yes the idea that all wimmin should b mothers is crap. But have a little imagination. Can u c the implications of this kind of research?a world totally devoid of men, a world where only wimmin exist-mayb not in our lifetime but this is at least a future possibility.

    Posted by SepDyke | April 16, 2007, 8:37 am
  11. Actually, I was surprised to read that there were researchers trying to create sperm from women. I already knew that some were trying to create ova from men.

    Posted by Branjor | April 16, 2007, 8:25 pm
  12. This is not exactly on point but it is something people should read: on in vitro, fatherhood, race, and what is now being called “wrongful birth” – !

    http://www.thenation.com/docprem.mhtml?i=20070423&s=williams

    Posted by profacero | April 17, 2007, 11:33 pm
  13. This is wonderful! I am a lesbian girl who feels that this movement towards all female conception will make a family with my lover possible. this is all i could ever dream of.

    Posted by Jaylene | August 14, 2008, 8:38 pm

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