In her capacity as Director of Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research at Stanford University in California, Dr Renee Reijo Pera is hoping to have viable human sperm in two years, to be followed within five years by human eggs.
The inability to conceive a baby can have many reasons which affect either the female or male or both, that are involved in creating an offspring. Where actual fertility is concerned there are stages throughout a woman and a mans life when their ability to conceive easily occurs. The younger you are when you attempt to have children, the better. With a lot of couples establishing their careers and leaving it ‘till later to start a family, there is bound to be more couples that will require investigating, which leads to fertility treatment.
This research is highly controversial as it uses embryonic stem cells because they provide the best start. Stem cells are part of multicellular organisms that via mitosis can form any cell type. This makes them so versatile when used to grow cells for bone marrow, body organs, repairing nerves or actually any cell in the human body.
There has always been objections to this medical research as cells are harvested from embryos. Dr Reijo Pera obtains the stem cells from the extra eggs that are not needed after IVF treatments. IVF clinics in America make 1 to 1.5 million ova a year and of these, 500,000 are disposed of. Seemingly many are concerned over the 500 being used to enhanced medical procedures and the health of the overall population, instead of the yearly disposal of 500,000 eggs that could be used in lifesaving treatment.
With the ground breaking achievements made by Japanese scientists in making baby mice from sperm and eggs that were grow with stem cells, it has given the US team a boost for their studies to go to the next stage and create a human baby in this way. Being able to produce a viable fertilized egg to be implanted by this method would help so many childless couples. Also the implications as to extending the length of childbearing years of women could be of benefit for those postponing parenthood.
All this said there are factors of opposition to stem cells being used and should women be able to have a baby in later years. So who is going to be brave enough to allow general use of stem cells recovered from embryos and decide how old is too old for a woman to give birth.
Written by Frances Cerulean
Stock Photo credit: kga245
All rights reserved
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