Thu, May 18, 2017 - Page 14 News List

Babies from skin cells? Looming advance unsettles some experts

Within a decade or two, scientists will likely be able to create a baby from human skin cells. But some fear the scientific development may lead to ‘embryo farming,’ ‘multiplex’ parents and the ‘Brad Pitt scenario’

By Tamar Lewin  /  New York Times News Service

IVG requires layers of complicated bioengineering. Scientists must first take adult skin cells — other cells would work as well or better, but skin cells are the easiest to get — and reprogram them to become embryonic stem cells capable of growing into different kinds of cells.

Then, the same kind of signaling factors that occur in nature are used to guide those stem cells to become eggs or sperm. (Cells taken from women could be made to produce sperm, the researchers say, but the sperm, lacking a Y chromosome, would produce only female babies.)

Last year, researchers in Japan, led by Katsuhiko Hayashi, used IVG to make viable eggs from the skin cells of adult female mice, and produced embryos that were implanted into female mice, who then gave birth to healthy babies.

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