By Rose Oladele
Same-sex couples are increasingly finding acceptance, both legally and socially, in different parts of the world but there is one thing they can’t do which is becoming biological parents to the same child.
Same-sex partners are currently barred from their dreams.They are currently barred from their dreams by a phenomenon called “genomic imprinting.”
But now a new set of technologies have the potential to change what is impossible, by allowing same sex partners to have kids who share their genetic material, just like straight couples.
Scientists discovered genomic imprinting in mammals about 30 years ago and in October 2018, researchers overcame this impossibility in mice. By deleting imprinted regions, Wei Li and a team at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing found out through a process of trial and error that they needed to remove twice as many imprinted regions in the bipaternal mice as the bimaternal mice but the bipaternal mice was not in their favour. In contrast, the bimaternal mice fared much better and the mice grew to adulthood and were healthy. Despite the researchers success, Li says the technique is not ready for use in humans.
However, a new technology called “in vitro gametogenesis”(IVG) may be an alternative potential path for same sex couples to have their own kids. Scientists are learning how to take adult skin cells, which can be turn into eggs or sperm.
Researchers’ from Japan have perfected the technique in mice and their team generated functional eggs from mice tail cells. The researchers then fertilized the eggs with sperm from male mice and implanted the embryos into surrogate mothers. The offspring grew up healthy and fertile.
With this approach a woman’s skin cells to be engineered into sperm and used to fertilize her partner’s egg.
IVG could transform same sex couples to have their children.