MAKING BABIES WITHOUT MUMS; Scientists find way to produce mice with no need for female eggs.
Byline: ANDREW GREGORY email@example.com
BABIES without mothers could be produced in future after scientists discovered how to create embryos without the need for female eggs.
British researchers became the first in the world to produce healthy mice with a technique that bypasses the normal step of fertilising an egg cell with sperm.
It means, in theory, that any cell in the human body coud be fertilised by sperm to produce offspring - although a woman would have to carry the child.
The breakthrough could enable women whose fertility has been wiped out by cancer to have their own children.
It may also eventually pave the way for the first baby to be born from the DNA of two men or even via a man on his own.
Experts last night hailed the discovery by scientists at Bath University as "exciting" and "important". They said it turns existing thinking about how life begins on its head.
It was always believed that only a female egg could spark the changes in a sperm that are needed to make a baby.
That's because a female egg forms from a special kind of cell division in which just half the number of chromosomes are carried over.
Sperm cells form in the same way. So when sperm and egg cells meet, they form a full genetic quota, with half a baby's DNA coming from its mum and half from its dad.
But in experiments, the scientists found a way to make embryos from non-egg cells.
Three generations of mice have successfully been created using the technique. All are fit and healthy.
The scientists now plan to test the theory using skin cells.
Dr Tony Perry, a molecular embryologist who led the team of scientists, admitted that the idea of producing babies without mums was "speculative and fanciful". But he did not rule it out in principle.
Imagine you take cells make embryos from DR TONY He said: "Some people say start the day with an egg, but what this paper says is that you don't necessarily have to start development with one.
"It has been thought that only an egg cell was capable of reprogramming sperm to allow embryonic development to take place.
"Our work challenges that dogma, held since early embryologists first observed mammalian eggs around 1827 and observed fertilisation 50 years later, that only an egg cell fertilised with a sperm cell can result in a live mammalian birth.
"We're talking about different ways of making embryos. Imagine that you could take skin cells and make embryos from them.
that could skin and "This would have all kinds of utility."
them PERRY Dr Paul Colville-Nash, of the Medical Research Council, who funded the study, said: "This is an exciting piece of research.
"It may one day even have implications for how we treat infertility, although that's probably still a long way off."
Unfertilised mouse eggs are treated with chemicals to trick them into becoming fake embryos, called parthenogenote embryos Mouse sperm injected in the parthenogenote embryos stops them dying and turns them into normal embryos 2 Embryos develop into healthy, fertile mice, which went on to have children of their own and then grandchildren
Imagine that you could take skin cells and make embryos from them DR TONY PERRY