Scientists raise the prospect of ‘two-dad babies’

Scientists have said that it is possible to ‘manufacture’ a baby using skin cells from two adults of the same sex.

The researchers claim that babies could soon be born to two men without any female genetic material, following controversial new research.

Critics have voiced their concern about the technique saying that it would bring us a step closer to ‘designer babies’.

Genetic engineering

David King, Director of Human Genetics Alert said he was worried that scientists might view the research as a ‘convenient route’ to creating genetically engineered humans.

According to Jacob Hanna, one of the specialists involved in the project, the technique could be used to create a baby just two years from now.

A team of scientists from Cambridge University and the Weizmann Institute in Israel used stem cells from embryos and cells from the skin of five adults to engineer egg and sperm cells.

Serious ethical issues

The use of sperm and egg cells which are engineered would require a change in the law.

Gay groups have already shown interest claiming it would allow homosexual couples to have children.

The researchers had previously created baby mice using engineered eggs and sperm but admitted that the prospect of creating a human baby raises serious ethical issues.

Designer babies

In January, leading scientists warned that society needs to be prepared for the prospect of ‘designer babies’ in the wake of recent developments in genetics.

Dr Tony Perry told the BBC that genetically modifying people is “not completely fanciful”, after announcing a new technique performed on mice, which precisely edits DNA at the moment of conception.

The technology could be used to add new pieces of genetic code, leading to children being ‘designed’ without certain diseases.

Grave risks

Parliament has voted recently to allow techniques which would result in three and four-parent babies.

During calls for the techniques to be legalised last year, Professor of bioethics Calum MacKellar said allowing the procedures “would create a very serious precedent, resulting in grave risks for the future”.

Friends of the Earth’s Head of Policy, Research and Science also expressed criticism: “We believe inheritable changes to the human genetic makeup are a dangerous step that should be prohibited.”

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