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Scientists Create Baby Mice With Sperm Alone
British researchers say they have created healthy baby mice by injecting sperm directly into a "pseudo-embryo," rather than a female egg cell.
"This is the first time that anyone has been able to show that anything other than an egg can combine with a sperm in this way to give rise to offspring," senior researcher Dr. Tony Perry, a molecular embryologist at the University of Bath, told the BBC. "It overturns nearly 200 years of thinking."
In the procedure, Perry's team used chemicals to manipulate an unfertilized egg cell into becoming something different -- a "fake" embryo.
These cells act very much like ordinary, non-embryonic cells in the way their DNA is organized and how they divide, the researchers explained.
In their experiments, one in every four mice conceived in this way survived, matured and was able to reproduce.
The research is in its very early stages, but might someday have a profound impact on treating infertility or creating babies without the involvement of women, Perry said.
"One possibility, in the distant future, is that it might be possible that ordinary cells in the body can be combined with a sperm so that an embryo is formed," he told the BBC.
For example, two men might conceive a child, with one man using his sperm while the other donates one of his ordinary cells, the researchers explained.
The research was published Sept. 13 in the journal Nature Communications, and was funded in part by the U.K.'s Medical Research Council (MRC).
"This is an exciting piece of research which may help us to understand more about how human life begins and what controls the viability of embryos, mechanisms which may be important to fertility," Dr. Paul Coleville-Nash said in a statement from the MRC.
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