Same-sex couples are a step closer to having their own biological children thanks to breakthrough stem cell research by scientists at Cambridge University and the Weizmann Institute in Israel.
The international team of scientists have shown that it is possible to create human sperm and eggs from stem cells derived from adult skin, regardless of the donor’s gender, reports Medical Daily.
“We have succeeded in the first and most important step of this process, which is to show we can make these very early human stem cells in a dish,” said lead researcher Dr. Azim Surani.
While this breakthrough could help men and women who have been rendered infertile by disease, gay groups have also expressed hope that this project will eventually lead to the creation of children made from stem cells derived from same-sex parents.
The researchers published their findings in the journal Cell earlier this week, stressing that it’s early days for this type of research.
Dr. Jacob Hanna, an investigator with the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel, told ABC News that the team will now attempt to complete the process by creating fully developed artificial sperm and eggs, either in a dish or by implanting them in a rodent.
Article continues belowOnce this is achieved, the technique could become useful for any individual with fertility problems, he said, including same-sex couples.
However, the prospect of creating a baby by these artificial means could become a reality in as little as two years, said Hanna.
“It is really important to emphasize that while this scenario might be technically possible and feasible, it is remote at this stage and many challenges need to be overcome,” he said.
“Further, there are very serious ethical and safety issues to be considered when and if such scenarios become considered in the distant future,” added Hanna.