Eggs and Sperm from Skin Cells?
How is it possible to create reproductive cells or gametes from skin that ultimately creates eggs and sperm? Incredible to believe isn’t it?
However, In Vitro Gametogenesis, or IVG as it scientifically called is a procedure fast developing that has the ability to reprogram cells into a younger state to ultimately nurture them into reproductive cells. This procedure is in its early days but already baby mice have been created by scientists in Japan. George Daley the Dean of Harvard Medical School suggests that it’s a matter of time before human eggs and sperm are created using this technique.
It all seems like science fiction at the moment but the procedure has been tipped to be the IVF of the future. However, currently this technology is illegal in the UK and has a way to go yet to get the all clear with new legislation and law formed before being tested on human cells to become a treatment offered to childless couples.
Sonia Suter (2015) suggests this new procedure potentially has benefits to help eradicate DNA and chromosome issues that lead to long term chronic and genetic mutations or disorders, but that’s not all. IVG is likely to open new doors for same sex couples wanting a child allowing DNA from each parent to be used, which in my view is exciting developments in reproduction. But ethical questions continue to arise with the possible DNA alterations for eugenic purposes that can manipulate the population for a desire of the perfect human being.
Thankfully the Human Fertilisation Embryology Association (HEFA) which is the UK’s independent regulator of treatment using eggs and sperm sets standards for research and treatment carried out within the UK, so we can be assured that any fertility procedure carried out in the UK its ethical implications have been discussed from many angles to consider patient safety and the wider health implications of our society.
In my view reproductive science with its mechanical processes is certainly needed to help those with difficulties in conceiving naturally. The ability to understand and prevent debilitating and life threatening diseases through the likes of genome developments to ultimately encourage reproduction is invaluable.
IVF and perhaps IVG in time is fast becoming the ‘normal’ method to conceive as more and more couples are having difficulties with fertility. However, overall reproductive techniques should not be reliant on the manipulations of genome editing or the use of invasive reproductive techniques as the norm and should be considered an exception, but how do we manage the ever increasing infertility issue? Is this an evolution shift or because of our lifestyle choice?
Whatever the cause of surge for couples experiencing infertility, the advancement of assisted reproductive techniques does have its place although we are still not sure of the long term effects for those undergoing treatment and babies born through such techniques, but is does give hope to many.
However, this leads me to wonder if we are becoming so far removed from the natural elements of the procreation of life itself, or the management of life that we are forgetting the wonders of nature with its unique ability to promote and correct its environment for our cells and for life to find a way to exist.