Chinese researchers have reached a new landmark as they managed to bread healthy mice by using DNA from two mothers. The feat was accomplished by using a gene editing tool, which may allow a better understanding of how mammals reproduce. On the downside, the event carries important ethical and safety questions that may have to be debated in the future.
The researchers fertilized 210 ovules; out of which they obtained 29 bi-maternal mice. They were all successful, as they developed normally into adulthood and had offspring of their own with only a few presenting some defects.
The research opens up several possibilities as the researchers also note that the defects which were encountered can be eliminated and it proves that bi-paternal reproduction barriers may also be removed through select gene modifications. The most problematic regions when it comes to the creation of mice with same-sex parents have also been highlighted. This will allow further targeted studies that may improve animal cloning technologies as well as genetic imprinting.
The study was recently published in a peer-reviewed journal. The argument for the study was finding out why some species of reptiles, fish and amphibians were able to reproduce with one parent of the same sex, while most cannot.
The research was done by using CRISPR Cas9, a gene editing tool that may save both lives and costs, while also raising controversial questions when it comes to the future of genetic research.
One of them is the idea of ‘’designer babies’’, where parents can choose particular traits. While the idea may be attractive, some scientists warn that the effect of gene editing may lead to unexpected mutations in the gene pool, endangering future generations.
Although the tool has immense potential in the future, the lack of long-term studies led many researchers to regard it as a useful research tool and nothing more. Many agree that it is not ready for practical use just yet.