Scientists Use Stem Cells To Create Embryo Without Sperm Or Egg

Researchers in the Netherlands have used stem cells to create an embryo without the use of sperm or eggs, in research that has raised controversy from those that find this kind of thing controversial.

Jumping the gun a bit, the Daily Mail reported that the discovery may lead to hordes of clones, though in the coming years it's more likely to help people with fertility issues to conceive.

Infertility is caused by a number of factors including immotile sperm, poor egg health, Vas Deferens Blockage and more, though one of the biggest causes - which the research aims to combat - is the failure of embryos to embed themselves in the womb.

The research involved combining two stem cells in a dish, which grew into an early form of embryo before it implants in the womb (a blastocyst). The research was initially carried out on mice, and though the embryo ultimately failed to implant, it is believed that the discoveries from the research could be used to create a mouse within the next three years.

An embryo at 6-7 weeks. Credit: lunar caustic (Creative Commons)
An embryo at 6-7 weeks. Credit: lunar caustic (Creative Commons)

While some raised concerns that the research could in time lead to human cloning, scientists were quick to dismiss the notion of it happening any time soon.

Stem cell research has long been a controversial topic. Religious groups in particular have been vocal in opposition, with many arguing that a life begins at conception, i.e. when an embryo is first formed.

In 2001, then US President George W. Bush signed an executive order which restricted federal funding for stem cell research. At the time, he said: "My position on these issues is shaped by deeply held beliefs. I also believe human life is a sacred gift from our creator."

Former US President George W Bush in the Oval Office in 2001. Credit: PA
Former US President George W Bush in the Oval Office in 2001. Credit: PA

The ban was in part overturned by his successor, Barack O'Bama, himself a Christian. He stated: "As a person of faith, I believe we are called to care for each other and work to ease human suffering.

"I believe we have been given the capacity and will to pursue this research and the humanity and conscience to do so responsibly."

Though many restrictions on stem cell research remained in place, it was a huge swing in policy from the Bush era.

Featured Image Credit: Pixabay

Ronan O'Shea

Ronan J O'Shea is a freelance journalist from London who has written for titles including LADbible, Headspace, The Independent, National Geographic Traveller and New York Post. Contact him at [email protected]

Next Up

arrow-down arrow-left arrow-right arrow-up camera clock close comment cursor email facebook-messenger facebook Instagram link new-window phone play share snapchat submit twitter vine whatsapp logoInline safari-pinned-tab Created by potrace 1.11, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2013