Washington D.C., Sep 25, 2018 / 02:01 am
Artificial human reproduction appears to be on the horizon with Japanese scientists’ claim to have created immature human eggs from stem cells, but the technique could result in power that would cross the bounds of ethics and serve as a “profound violation” of marriage and marital love, a bioethicist has warned.
John Brehany, a Catholic bioethicist and director of institutional relations at the National Catholic Bioethics Center, told CNA that stem cell research has its positives.
“Such knowledge and power could be used for good ends, achieved with ethical means. For example, scientists could build on this sophisticated expertise in stem cell science to create human organs for transplantation or to cure major diseases or injuries,” he said.
“However, given the significance of the human desire for procreation, (and) the lust for power, it appears likely that scientists will try to use this technology to engage in truly artificial human reproduction.”
The reported development is “evidence of a major advance in biotechnology prowess” and show the potential for scientists “to exert control over the most fundamental and complex building blocks of biology and life,” he said.
The team of Japanese scientists used a common method to transform adult human blood cells into induced pluripotent stem cells, which have the capacity to become other human cells, National Public Radio reports. They then placed these cells into miniature ovaries created in the lab from mouse embryonic cells. As reported in the journal Science, this triggered the human stem cells’ transformation into immature human egg cells.
The scientists said they next plan to make mature human eggs and produce human sperm using this method.
“It’s the beginning of a paradigm change,” Kyle Orwig, a professor in the department of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive sciences at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, told NPR.