Science is always developing new amazing technologies, but this one seems like something straight out of Frankenstein’s life: babies grown in labs from your hands or legs.
You may have already heard about human ears being made in a Petri dish. Scientists have developed the technology to grow a human ear in a lab, and then graft it onto a patient who needs the transplant.
But what about growing babies?
That’s what scientists in Japan are looking at. And they’ve done it. Japanese researchers have developed the ability to create a baby mouse using only the skin cells of its parents. There’s no sex going on, at all. Or, in vitro fertilization.
The new process is called in vitro gametogenesis, or IVG. It involves creating sperm cells and egg cells from the skin cells of two parent mammals. Simply, the skin.
How It Works
Before being manipulated, the DNA available in the skin cells is naturally programmed to do things that, well, skin cells do.
But IVG re-programs them. It fiddles with things, for a different result. IVG gets these cells to change their role and behave like embryonic stem cells- the cells that make mammals reproduce.
The cells are then ‘stimulated’ by scientists. They grow into eggs and sperm, which are then combined in a lab for fertilization, and the rest, as they say, is history.
So, what about humans? Is it possible with our skin cells? No, but researchers are working on it. And they’re confident that it WILL be possible, someday soon.
At the moment, according to a report on CNN, the technology is in the news because scientists are now looking to start a conversation with the general public, ethicists and others about the possible technology.
They want to start outlining the ways IVG could be used- and what wouldn’t be allowed. One suggestion is that IVG could be a good option for couples that have already tried IVF, but haven’t found success, or for those couples that don’t even have it as an option on their radar.
There is a fear that the new knowledge could lead to misuse, though, of course. If a baby can be made from skin cells, additional gene alterations are possible, and it could become a commodity, if the practice became widespread.
Would the rich be able to pay for superhumans, with fantastic memories that can outperform the poor?
It’s hard to say what could happen with the technology.
Amidst all these loose ends, one thing is for certain, though: humans aren’t going to disappear on the planet-at least not due to a lack of pro-creation. We can’t stop global warming or giant asteroids heading our way, but we’re definitely not going to stop multiplying.