The end of the sex reproductive: comes the technique that will allow to have children without the intervention of the male

japanese research has created human germ cells from blood of woman, so that those who have a uterus may be reproduced without the need of a man A chinese sc

The end of the sex reproductive: comes the technique that will allow to have children without the intervention of the male

japanese research has created human germ cells from blood of woman, so that those who have a uterus may be reproduced without the need of a man

A chinese scientist claims to have created the first baby genetically modified

The dangers of science without ethics

"Instead of in a bed, in the back seat of a car or under a sign not to step on the grass, children will be conceived in clinics". The desire and sweat, replaced by the coldness of the laboratory and white coats. So you see a not so distant future Henry T. Greely, professor of Law at Stanford University, an expert in bioethics and author of the book The End of Sex and the Future of Human Reproduction (2016).

is this The end of sex for reproductive purposes? Probably, yes.

The controversial case of the chinese scientist I have Jiankui and his alleged babies that are genetically modified has been put back on the table the status of these practices in all the world. Even though you have stopped their experiments, still in question, the news has coincided in time with the intention of the government japónés to approve, at the beginning of 2019, a draft law developed by experts that not only allow for the editing of genetics embryos for scientific purposes (not for breeding), but it is encouraged.

Japan does not intend to follow in the footsteps of China, the Uk and the USA, countries in which is allowed the genetic manipulation of embryos for scientific purposes, the prior authorization of various committees, but ahead of them on the right. If it finally goes forward in the japanese parliament, the law states that the researchers will not need government approval to carry out modifications in the DNA of the embryo.

The dust-up media for the case Jiankui has overshadowed another investigation, also japanese, that raises a revolution in the assisted reproduction that prevents the edition genetics. The advance, published in the journal Science in September, was designed by a team led by biologist Mitinori Saitou, who has managed to create human germ cells, the previous stage to an egg, cells from the blood of a woman.

gametogenesis can cheapen the processes of in vitro fertilization, because they would not have to be to cryopreserve or an appeal to donors. Do a small skin biopsy or draw blood would be enough.

Carlos Simón, professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology

Still has not come to get a mature egg, prepared to be fertilized in vitro, but there are other clinical trials with mice that they have managed to germ cells complete. The result is a lovely litter of small mice from cells of the tail of two adult mice. Which raises the gametogenesis in vitro, which is so called the process, is to bring the magic of playing to a Petri dish without egg donation or sperm.

One of the scenarios more extreme, finally, if the gametogenesis in vitro become a reality, is that of a planet in which man would no longer be necessary for reproduction. If both gametes, male and female, can be obtained from cells of the skin or of the blood, of the male gender in its entirety would be dispensable. What remains indispensable to human reproduction is the implantation of the embryo and the uterus of the woman... for the moment. Artificial wombs to help the development of preterm children is already a reality, will the day that you can gestate an embryo from the beginning? "It is possible", says Henry T. Greely, "although I will say that it is a hypothesis far in the time. This external body could be created from stem cells and be connected to machines that provide oxygen, nutrients and blood to the correct levels of hormones."

Greely has spent years studying the possible changes of social, legal, and ethical advances of a similar magnitude. The first thing is to have a time frame: "I would say that they will spend between 15 and 30 years before they are approved for clinical use, since they ensure that the process is safe for the baby resulting will require a substantial study".

Carlos Simón, professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology of the University of Valencia and scientific director of Igenomix, a Spanish company pioneer in reproductive genetics, agrees: "it Is a matter of time and a lot of work, testing and analysis. We are talking about a very delicate subject, you have to make sure that there is no possibility that something will go wrong, but it has a huge potential. Gametogenesis can to cheapen the processes of in vitro fertilization, because it would have to be to cryopreserve or an appeal to donors. Do a small biopsy of the skin or draw blood would be enough"".

The possible benefit would be, according to Greely, "those couples who want to have children with their own genetic load, but cannot, because of illness or congenital problems. It is also plausible that the process might reverse the biological clock and allow the women to 45, 50 or 60 years to produce their own viable eggs". A third use, yet to explore, could you "try to convert the skin cells of men in eggs and skin cells from women into sperm". That is to say, that homosexual couples can have children with genetic load of the two, or even that of the cells of a single person to obtain gametes both male and female.

And so we come to which both consider as the most extensive use, the "fertile couples who will prefer to use this technique to make many embryos, say 100, and then using preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) to know the genetic traits of any child resulting from it and to choose the one you prefer". And it is here where we encounter what might appear to be a dystopia, half-way between Gattaca and A brave new world: skip the genetic lottery to offer babies to the letter, selected by their potential physical characteristics and/or intellectuals.

To understand the obstacles, the moral and ethical gametogenesis in vitro we also have in this debate to three bands with the participation of Federico de Montalvo, president of the Bioethics Committee of Spain and member of the Bioethics Committee of the UNESCO, where he is currently working on a report on new forms of fatherhood and motherhood. "This would open up many possibilities, a huge field in the field of infertility," he admits. "But it would also no longer need sex to have children".

The gametogenesis is in addition to other technicals controversial, such as the donation of mitochondrial (assisted reproduction with DNA from three parents) or gestational surrogacy. The three posed as to how science can transform a cultural concept with thousands of years of tradition: that mother no more than one (Mater semper certa est), one of the biological facts more evident since the beginnings of humanity. "The human reproduction, and all the research linked to it is one of the areas that is changing our society, though we don't realize it," he says.

The end, to enable the paternity of people who can't have children using their own cells, may be plausible. But, what would be the means to achieve it? "The problem with these things is often not so much in the primary use, which is positive, but in the uses side or not provided. In all that is embryonic selection, the debate that arises is-where is the border between editing a disease, such as Huntington's disease, and the improvement. How far can we get by eliminating embryos? What goal are we talking about? If what we seek is a supposed perfection, we enter dangerous ground". This technique would open the door to extreme cases, as pointed out by the expert in bioethics Ronald Green in the NPR: "A woman who wants to have a child with George Clooney could turn to hairdresser of the actor to buy their follicles. It could even sell them online. Soon we may get a progeny very numerous descendants of George Clooney without his consent."

need more George Clooneys in the world, no doubt, but probably he would not do ni puñetera grace.

And here is where he would play a challenging legal framework particularly complex, still developing, in which the eugenics hovers dangerously. "This technique allows us to offer many alternatives, but people automatically transforms these possibilities into rights. And it depends, because it affects third parties and to a genetic inheritance. There is the big dilemma", he concludes.

In the best of cases, gametogenesis in vitro will save thousands of women the suffering you undergo expensive and not always successful treatments, prevent disease, reduce costs of health care and will give non-traditional families new opportunities to have children. At worst, they increase the differences between rich and poor countries, will further decrease the rate of adoption, discourage current research of rare diseases and to promote a new type of gestational surrogacy.

For the moment, in Spain this type of practices would be illegal, since the Law of Assisted Reproduction 2006, the Biomedical Research Law of 2007 and the Oviedo Convention, signed in 1997, is expressly prohibited that human embryos be used in research. But, like everything relating to the science, it is only a matter of time and a lot of testing. In vitro fertilization is considered to be 40 years ago as something unnatural and even dangerous to the future of the human race. Today, Spain is the european leader in assisted reproduction.

Carlos Simon hopes it will not delay much in giving the final step, always from the scientific rigour, because "what now happens is that God, or nature, gives me the same in what you believe, acting in a random manner in many cases, which means that continue to be born children with congenital heart severe malformations, or disease incurable. These techniques help to avoid this type of cases."

Greely qualifies as impossible that "these processes are used to make superbebés or X-Men, because we do not know the DNA sequences of the superpowers and probably never will. If used, it will be to convert variations rare genetic disease-causing variations are common and safe."

A speech reassuring, no doubt. But, as we already know by own experience, the world of ours, each day has a stubborn tendency to approach distopías of writers like Aldous Huxley. Still, it is in our hands to decide where and to what extent.

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Updated Date: 12 December 2018, 20:01

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