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Mice have been born to same-sex parents for the first time

Mice have been born to same-sex parents for the first time

Mice

Scientists broke boundaries in reproductive science with a study where baby mice were born to same-sex parents for the first time.

Wei Li, of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, was a senior author of the paper, which questioned boundaries surrounding reproduction in mammals.

In the study, healthy mice were born to two mothers. Other mice were born to two fathers, but they only survived a couple of days.

Scientists previously have produced baby mice from same-sex parents, but they were born with abnormalities and health complications. This is the first time mice have been born completely health to same-sex parents and lived to adulthood.

How was this accomplished?

With some animals, like hammerhead sharks, the creation of offspring does not require a father’s genes.

In mammals, however, a mother and father must give equal genetic contributions. During the reproductive cycle of mammals, something called imprinting occurs. This is when 100 copies of the mother’s genes are made, before switching to the father’s, and so on.

The Chinese team who spearheaded this study found instead that manipulation is possible.

For the mice born to two mothers, the scientists took embryonic cells from one female mouse. They then used a genetic editing tool and cut certain sections of DNA, essentially making it seem more male.

These modified cells were injected into the unfertilized egg of the second mouse, and the two genetic strands from both female mice produced 29 baby mice. They all lived to adulthood and had their own offspring.

For the mice born to two males, modified genetic materials from males were placed into a female egg that had been stripped of its own genetic material. Surrogate mothers gave birth to offspring, but they only survived 48 hours.

What does the future hold?

‘This shows us what’s possible,’ Li said.

It is unlikely, however, this will ever happen with humans.

Christophe Galichet, a senior scientist at The Francis Crick Institute in London commented: ‘It is unthinkable to generate a human baby that way. The authors have made an extremely important step forward in understanding why mammals can only reproduce sexually.’

H/t: The Guardian

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