A Brave New Weird &
In 2012, Mitinori Saitou at Kyoto University and his colleagues reported that they had produced mature mouse eggs and sperm from stem cells and had used them to breed healthy mouse pups.
Six years on from that development, it has recently been reported that immature human eggs were created by Japanese researchers using stem cells that were derived from blood cells, thereby bringing us a step closer toward creating human eggs in a lab dish.
The Japanese scientists turned adult human blood cells into induced pluripotent stem cells possessing the ability to become any cell in the body and which the scientists then transformed into very immature human eggs.
This was achieved by placing the induced human pluripotent stem cells into miniature ovaries that were created from mouse embryonic cells. The scientists created a tiny artificial ovary inside of which were very immature human egg cells. It is significant to note that the experiment occurred entirely within an incubator within a laboratory.
For better or for worse, it may also ultimately be a major step towards the time when humanity eventually takes control of its own evolution.
Humanity is now faced with the prospect of being able to mass-produce human eggs in labs. This capability would no doubt raise the kinds of societal, moral and ethical concerns that have featured in many science fiction stories such as Aldous Huxley’s, Brave New World (1932) and in films such as, Gattaca (1997) and The Island (2005).
For instance, what if babies could in the future be made from the blood, hair or skin cells of children, grandmothers or even deceased people? What if babies were made from cells stolen from people who have simply had samples of their hair obtained by some underhanded means? Would any of us wish to have our offspring brought into this world without our consent? And what of the legal status of such offspring?
If we can make human eggs and sperm from our skin cells, what implications does this have for how humans reproduce, how we relate to each other and what it in fact means to be human.
Of particular concern is the possibility this research opens up for genetic testing and screening of embryos before a baby is “born.” It may beneficial when it comes to identifying abnormalities, which means the discarding of embryos possessing such abnormalities. We must also consider the likely implications of having parents, medical professionals or indeed governments determining which embryos go on to become babies. Would we wish to condone a process which amounts to a form of back door eugenics?
We knew this was coming! It is coming! Now that it’s just about to arrive on our doorstep, can our ethical, moral, legal, social, political and other institutional bodies and frameworks put in place the necessary principles and guidelines that will enable us to retain our human dignity?
By The original uploader was GoldenBear at German Wikipedia. - Life Issues Institute, 1721W Galbraith Road, Cincinnati, OH 45239, 513.729.3600, www.lifeissues.org, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=22862400