Stem cells have generated such an enormous amount of interest, in part, because of their applications related to areas such as fertility and genetics. In that same light, their interest for solving reproductive challenges has also generated a great deal of controversy. This is particularly true in the application of stem cells to facilitate reproduction for gay couples.
At present, there are a number of research laboratories that are focused on the creation of cells that are genetically male but have been produced from eggs. Alternately, they are also trying to create sperm from female eggs. If the research proves to work, the consequences are particularly important for gay and lesbian couples that wish to have children. The idea is, however, an extremely controversial one that mixes in with politics, religion and ethics. Many individuals oppose same-sex reproduction while gay and lesbian couples - as well as heterosexual members of the public - argue that gay persons should have the right to produce and raise biological children if the opportunity becomes available.
Current Research for Same Sex Reproduction
The techniques purported to allow same-sex reproduction have yet to be successful but they do hold promise. They include methods of cellular reprogramming and even techniques such as artificial chromosomes. While they have not been shown to work at present, they do hold potential for the future of same-sex reproduction. One particular technique involves the creation of sperm from human stem cells. In a recent experiment, bone marrow stem cells were extracted from men and they were then triggered into spermatogonia. These cells are able to develop into immature sperm cells. The experiment was widely reported in the news but has not yet been published or successfully replicated.
In another experiment, spermatogonia were triggered to begin meiosis after being cultured with cells known as Sertoli cells. These cells are found in the testes and are important because they support developing sperm. While the research team for this particular experiment has yet to obtain these kinds of results with the production of eggs, a team in Brazil does cite that they have created sperm and eggs from embryonic stem cells. Whether or not the eggs can actually produce viable offspring, however, is the most vital aspect of this type of experimentation. Still, the work does still show that potential for same-sex reproduction exists, and it will likely spur further research in this area.
Safety is a key aspect of stem cell research - this aspect is more important than ever when addressing the potential for same-sex reproduction. When cells are triggered into change, there is the possibility that they grow uncontrolled and are more likely to lead to cancer. The enormity of the cell modification that occurs to create female sperm is also of concern, especially with regards to any chromosomal abnormalities or problems that can occur through the use of artificial chromosomes.
Controversy of Stem Cells and Same Sex Reproduction
Unfortunately, the pathway to realistically providing the techniques to support same-sex reproduction is a complicated one in terms of political, religious and ethical controversy. Most conservative religious groups are strongly opposed to same-sex relationships, so it follows without surprise that they are against same-sex reproduction. This means that even if same-sex reproduction becomes a successful reality, there are still numerous hurdles to overcome before the techniques can actually be put into practice.
I hope this is a reality eventually. I want to be able to have a child with the one I love!
Daniel - 21-Jan-14 @ 7:48 PM
I'm really encouraged to see that scientific progress is advancing much more quickly than the primitive and unfortunate thinking that still binds all of us in this society (Y) Hopefully, this technology can achieve success quickly :) Even if it might not be safe, I'm certain the homosexuals out there who are so eager to have their children will not even hesitate about doing it. At the same time, I am also really really grateful to all the scientists and researchers and advocates of this technology (it will be a tough fight, but a meaningful one) And thank you Ian for this article, it has given hopes to many people who will continue to persevere on! I hope I will live long enough to witness all these remarkable technological feats! :D Let's persevere on! <3
hopeful - 4-Dec-13 @ 4:29 AM
Two y chromosomes can't make a human though. They don't hold the right kind of info or enough of it.
Doesn't anyone see now that marriage is based on the subjugation of women, that it won't last much longer now that gay marriage is allowed? I am glad it's going. :)
Anyway, since when do you need to be in a couple to have a baby? Well males do, but not females.
Ohhhhhhhh I seeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee.......
Truthful Nacho - 31-Jul-13 @ 7:54 PM
Gracie, While I agree that this could have unforseeable negative outcomes, all the more reason to research thoroughly so that doesn't happen. As for going against nature, evolution occurs from a specific event, this could be said event. not to mention the already missing link in supposed human evolution... it's my personal opinion that human genetics were ALREADY tampered with somewhere down the line. since none of us have been around long enough to experience the entire existence of nature it's a bit presumptious to claim we know what goes against it and what doesn't.
As for my opinion on the matter? why not but, let's "proceed with caution"
Rufus - 20-Feb-13 @ 1:18 AM
Amazing. The Sci-Fi world is not at all as far away as some people think. I can promise you that mankind in 2100 will be 100% different. There will be gay marriage worldwide, two men can legally father biological children, religion will be absent no more holding humanity back... I'm just in awe.
A. Hoffman - 27-Jan-13 @ 2:22 AM
@Gracie, based on your logic, IVF and Cochlear Implants are also mad science. You're a hateful idiot. Watch and see how we prosper, you WILL lose.
Yo Mama - 31-Dec-12 @ 2:25 PM
I would really like to know which lab in USA is focusing on the research of same-sex reproduciton. As a lesbian, I am willing to finish my PhD program on this topic.
Joy - 20-Dec-12 @ 4:03 AM
What exiciting timeswe live in
bonehead - 18-Aug-12 @ 3:06 PM
It is mad science and nothing more.If nature had intended for two of the same gender to procreate, this would have happened.This is utter insanity and ethically wrong on so many levels.It has nothing to do with gay marriage or the adoption of children.Same-sexed procreation is tampering with nature and the planet as it was formed. This mad science could spawn something terrible- new diseases or genetic defects.It is an outrage.
Gracie - 25-Jul-12 @ 10:13 PM
I think this is an amazing thing to be researching my girlfriend and I are looking to get pregnant in a few years and I would love to have her be the mother of our child just as much as I am. I saw a movie called "The Baby Formula" that was a documentary on two lesbians who tested this out and had two beautiful baby girls. I really hope that things will pass through politacly. This would be an amazing advancment in science and a blessing to same sex couples.