From: Carey Lening (Carey.Lening@hiho.com)
Date: Mon Sep 25 2000 - 21:25:46 PDT
Monday, 25 September, 2000, 08:21 GMT 09:21 UK
Male couples 'could conceive a child'
Genetic techniques first used on Dolly the sheep could help male couples
conceive their own children in the future, a bioethics researcher has
Dr Calum MacKellar, a lecturer in biochemistry at Edinburgh University,
believes scientific advances could result in a homosexual couple having a
baby that combined the DNA of both fathers.
Part of a woman's egg would be required and so would a surrogate mother to
bring such a child to term.
But Dr MacKellar said cell nuclear replacement techniques used to create
Dolly, the world's first mammal clone made from an adult cell, might make it
possible to create so-called "male eggs" which could be fertilised by sperm
from another man.
Dolly the Sheep was a first for cloning
"It's theoretically possible - if they were able to control the implanting -
to have a child that's born as a result of having two fathers," he said.
The "male egg" would be created by removing the nucleus from a donor egg and
replacing it with the nucleus from a sperm cell.
The new egg would then have male DNA and could be fertilised in-vitro by
another sperm before being implanted in the womb of a surrogate mother.
But the doctor, who runs a non-profit organisation called European
Bioethical Research, says there are significant genetic obstacles currently
preventing the idea from becoming reality.
The embryo of a mammal created using only paternal DNA lacks imprinted
maternal genes which allow it to develop normally, he said.
Cloning has raised widespread concerns
If this could be overcome, then it should be theoretically possible for the
embryo to grow normally.
He said: "The whole question of biology since Dolly the Sheep is absolutely
fascinating and it's the big question at the moment."
The UK Parliament is about to vote on a Bill which, if passed, would permit
cloning techniques to be used for therapeutic purposes. The legislative
changes are based on recommendations produced by an expert panel led by
England's Chief Medical Officer, Sir Liam Donaldson.
Under the current proposals being examined by MPs, male only conception
would not be permitted because it is likely to be regarded as reproductive
cloning. But Dr MacKellar said the Donaldson committee had not looked into
the ethical issues raised by such a scenario.
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