January 31, 2008
Another Step Closer To Female Sperm

Lesbian sexual reproduction keeps getting closer.

In April last year, Prof Karim Nayernia, Professor of Stem Cell Biology at Newcastle University, made headlines by taking stem cells from adult men and making them develop into primitive sperm.

He has now managed to repeat the feat of creating the primitive sperm cells with female embryonic stem cells in unpublished work.

The next step is to make these primitive sperm undergo meiosis, so they have the right amount of genetic material for fertilisation.

But this is just another way to randomly choose chromosomes from two people to start a pregnancy. There's not much control over which genes end up in the new human. The really interesting step will come when individual chromosomes from different cells will become selectable to put together all the chromosomes used to start a pregnancy. With that capability will come a huge acceleration in the rate of human evolution.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2008 January 31 10:19 PM  Biotech Reproduction

Marc said at February 1, 2008 8:30 AM:

How long do you think we will have until this happens? Is anyone putting out any estimates? As someone who is going to have to rely on surrogates and in vitro to build a family anyway, if the technology for uber-kids is going to be available in ten years I might as well wait.

Bob Badour said at February 1, 2008 9:08 PM:

If you really want a family, don't wait.

reanimator said at February 2, 2008 7:46 AM:

Suddenly I feel their trying to get rid of us [men]....

Mthson said at February 2, 2008 8:57 AM:

Marc, some technologies are closer than others and what action is optimal may depend on one's situation and goals.

Embryo selection is already being practiced in some reproductive clinics to reduce the number of genes that increase disease chances. It seems like a motivated person with the extra funds could even today have the specialists also select for things like height, eye color, hair color, and some temperament traits.

Some men might want to consider freezing sperm now, as it only decreases in quality as we age (though at a slower rate than occurs with women's eggs).

Bob Badour said at February 2, 2008 10:53 AM:


Well over 90% of us have always been redundant. If they really wanted to get rid of us, they could have already gotten rid of most of us.

Randall Parker said at February 2, 2008 11:09 AM:


Mthson is correct. Some technologies are closer than others. The really big change that is going to happen in the next few years is the discovery of what thousands of genetic variations do. The rate of discovery of the significance of genetic variations has already sped up by at least an order of magnitude in the last year and it is going to do some more speeding up.

With that knowledge about what some of the genetic variations mean the very first application is going to be with embryo selection. We can do embryo selection right now. Our problem is that we don't really know which embryo to choose. The coming knowledge about genetic variations embryo selection suddenly becomes much more powerful.

Again, we are going to gain lots of useful knowledge just in the next 3 years and even more in 4 and 5 years. A woman in her early 20s ought to wait 5 years and use the embryo genetic testing tech that we will have 5 years from now. Someone who can afford to wait 10 years can probably get 15 points higher IQ kids by waiting, better looking and healthier too.

Bob Badour said at February 2, 2008 12:38 PM:

If you are 30, don't assume you can wait 10 years. Yes, some women have children in their 40's. And plenty of women find they are unable to conceive in their 40's no matter how much money they throw at the task.

On the other hand, if you are 16 or 18, wait at least 10 years. :)

reanimator said at February 2, 2008 1:54 PM:

Bob Badour,

That sounds like a justification for kings and harems... ask the poorest 10% of China's men how they feel about the subject.. :)

laura l. kilarski said at February 13, 2008 10:18 AM:

if your genetic makeup requires you to wait for embryo selection to bear smart and good-looking kids... maybe you should consider not having children at all, at least in light of the ongoing overpopulation problem :p

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