In vitro gametogenes: Just another way to have a baby?

December 17, 2015

New analysis by a George Washington University academic examines the possibility of using in vitro gametogenesis (IVG) for human reproduction and its ethical and practical implications. The paper is published today in the Journal of Law and the Biosciences.

IVG is the method, most advanced in mice, by which gametes are derived from (capable of giving rise to several different cell types) or . IVG in humans could potentially allow for never-before used methods of procreation. Research suggests that whilst not yet advanced enough on human cells, IVG for reproduction may one day be possible in humans.

Using a relational autonomy framework, Professor Sonia Suter analyses the potential benefits and harms of IVG, which depend on the social, scientific, and legal contexts in which it is used. As enormous developments are necessary before IVG could be used in humans, Professor Suter comments that: "the ethical dilemmas about when and how such research should be done will be enormously challenging."

Several groups of people could potentially use IVG for reproduction: those who cannot conceive for physical reasons, , postmenopausal women or premenarche girls, and groups of more than two - multiplex parenting.

Same-sex couples must currently rely on gamete donors when using assisted reproductive technologies (ART) such as artificial insemination or IVF with a surrogate. What distinguishes IVG from current ART is that it would allow such couples to have biologically related children without using gamete donors. For example, a gamete of the opposite sex could be derived from an individual's cells. This in combination with a naturally derived gamete from the other member of the couple could be used to produce an embryo.

Professor Suter also discusses the implications of 'perfecting reproduction' with IVG. She explains: "IVG could play a role in efforts to have a healthy or enhanced child" by making prenatal selection "much easier and more robust." It could, for example, be used to create many more embryos for preimplantation genetic diagnosis than we can today, vastly refining the ability to select embryos.

Perhaps most crucial to the future use of IVG, as she also points out, are the potential risks of the procedure. "We have minimal knowledge," Suter says, "about the implications of switching from differentiated to undifferentiated states and the implications of erasing and resetting imprinting patterns to facilitate reproduction. The only way to demonstrate the effectiveness and safety of these techniques in humans is to use in vitro gametes to try to produce viable offspring in controlled settings - when and if we deem it sufficiently safe to do so."

Despite concerns over the risks and the fact that the technology is still a way off, Professor Suter concludes that, given that we support ART as a society, in many ways, IVG may be just another way to have a baby.

Explore further: Stem cells likely to be safe for use in regeneration medicine, study confirms

More information: "In Vitro gametogenesis: just another way to have a baby?" Sonia Suter, Journal of Law and the Biosciences, DOI: 10.1093/jlb/lsv057

Related Stories

Stem cells likely to be safe for use in regeneration medicine, study confirms

December 17, 2015
Cambridge researchers have found the strongest evidence to date that human pluripotent stem cells—cells that can give rise to all tissues of the body—will develop normally once transplanted into an embryo. The findings, ...

Splitting human embryos to produce twins for IVF may not be viable

October 21, 2015
Human twin embryos created in the laboratory by splitting single embryos into two using a common method known as blastomere biopsy may be unsuitable both for IVF and for research purposes, according to a new study led by ...

World's first IVF baby born after preimplantation genome sequencing is now 11 months old

July 22, 2013
The largest genomic institute of the world, BGI Shenzhen, China (hereinafter BGI), together with Reproductive & Genetic Hospital CITIC-XIANGYA (hereinafter CITIC-XIANGYA) announced today that they have successfully applied ...

Assisted reproduction for same-sex male couples and single men examined

July 3, 2013
Elsevier today announced the publication of a recent retrospective study in Reproductive BioMedicine Online to better understand treatment considerations and outcomes for same-sex male couples and single men when using assisted ...

Recommended for you

Exploring the potential of human echolocation

June 25, 2017
People who are visually impaired will often use a cane to feel out their surroundings. With training and practice, people can learn to use the pitch, loudness and timbre of echoes from the cane or other sounds to navigate ...

Team eradicates hepatitis C in 10 patients following lifesaving transplants from infected donors

April 30, 2017
Ten patients at Penn Medicine have been cured of the Hepatitis C virus (HCV) following lifesaving kidney transplants from deceased donors who were infected with the disease. The findings point to new strategies for increasing ...

'bench to bedside to bench': Scientists call for closer basic-clinical collaborations

March 24, 2017
In the era of genome sequencing, it's time to update the old "bench-to-bedside" shorthand for how basic research discoveries inform clinical practice, researchers from The Jackson Laboratory (JAX), National Human Genome Research ...

The ethics of tracking athletes' biometric data

January 18, 2017
(Medical Xpress)—Whether it is a FitBit or a heart rate monitor, biometric technologies have become household devices. Professional sports leagues use some of the most technologically advanced biodata tracking systems to ...

Financial ties between researchers and drug industry linked to positive trial results

January 18, 2017
Financial ties between researchers and companies that make the drugs they are studying are independently associated with positive trial results, suggesting bias in the evidence base, concludes a study published by The BMJ ...

Best of Last Year – The top Medical Xpress articles of 2016

December 23, 2016
(Medical Xpress)—It was a big year for research involving overall health issues, starting with a team led by researchers at the UNC School of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health who unearthed more evidence that ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.