Scientists at the Reproductive Genetics Institute in Chicago, US, say that they have developed a technique that could be used to allow two women to have a child together, without the need for sperm.
The technique involves manipulating cells taken from a woman and turning them into 'artificial sperm' which could then be used to fertilise another woman's egg, allowing two women to be the genetic parents of a child. The technique was developed to help men with no sperm have children.
The Chicago scientists say that they are already trialling the technique on human eggs, and it may be available within two years. Many other scientists, however, believe that the technique is dangerous. It involves a process known as 'haploidisation', where chromosomes within a cell are forced to separate in half. It is believed that this might cause illnesses that would not be apparent until the child was older. Professor Bill Ledger, from Sheffield University in the UK, said 'this technology has a high risk of creating damaged people and therefore I don't think it should be allowed to go ahead'.
But Mohammed Taranissi, a UK fertility specialist who has been working with the Chicago team, believes that the technique shows promise. He said 'it's being done in human eggs as we speak and the first results are going to be presented at a conference in April'.