100% lab-grown babies in FIVE YEARS: Japanese researchers are on cusp of creating human eggs and sperm that can be grown in a fake womb
• Producing human sperm and eggs in the lab is known as in vitro gametogenesis
• Already achieved in mice, scientists say it could be possible in humans in 5 years
Growing human babies from scratch in a lab could be possible in just five years thanks to a new breakthrough.
Researchers in Japan are on the cusp of being able to create human eggs and sperm in the lab from scratch, which would then develop in an artificial womb.
Professor Katsuhiko Hayashi, a Japanese scientist at Kyushu University who has already figured out the process in mice, believes he is just five years away from replicating the results in humans.
But there are ethical concerns, as it means women of any age could have babies. Parents may also want to design their offspring to have certain traits using gene editing tools, giving way to the notion of an assumed perfect child.
Dr Hayashi and his team recently created seven mice with two male biological parents, using skin cells from a male mouse to form a viable egg and then fertilize it.
The ability to produce custom-made human sperm and eggs in the lab is called in vitro gametogenesis (IVG).
It works by taking cells from a person’s blood or skin and reprogramming them to become induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS cells).
In theory, these cells can become any cell in the body, including egg and sperm cells.
They could then be used to make embryos and implanted into women’s wombs.
Scientists have been able to make very basic human eggs and sperm this way, but have not yet been able to make embryos.