No father necessary as mice are created with two mothers

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Mice were also born from two fathers (without a mother), but only survived for a couple of days.

Scientists have been able to breed mice with same-sex parents using a breakthrough technique involving stem cells and gene editing.

Image: The mice have now had healthy babies of their own.

"This is an interesting paper following-up on a long-standing question of developmental biology - why is it that in mammalian newborns you need to have equal genetic contributions from both a mother and a father, whereas elsewhere in the animal kingdom, it is possible to create (for example), chickens, komodo dragons and sharks without a genetic contributions from a father?"

In a news release, the scientists said the mice "still showed defective features" and called the method "very impractical and hard to use".

Chinese genetic scientists said this extraordinary experiment took place while they were researching sexual reproduction and its phases. The authors write that "cultured parthenogenetic and androgenetic haploid embryonic stem cells (haESCs) display DNA hypomethylation resembling that of primordial germ cells".

During the reproduction process, mammals mostly inherit two sets of each gene, one from their mother and one from their father. They then injected the newly manipulated cell into a normal egg from another female mouse.

Speaking to The Sun, an RSPCA spokesperson said: "We are concerned about the significant impacts on the welfare of animals involved in this, and potentially numerous related studies in the future, even more so as experts in the field say there is no realistic likelihood of a direct medical benefit to humans".

Healthy mice babies with two mothers and no father have been born.

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The resulting embryo thus carried only paternal genomic DNA from two male mice.

To do this with two mouse mothers, the researchers deleted three imprinting regions of the genome from haploid embryonic stem cells (ESC) from a female mouse and injected it into another female mouse's egg cell.

Chinese researchers have created healthy mice from two biological moms for the first time.

"Most people accept that genetically engineering humans is morally unconscionable, and doing the same thing to mice using stem-cell technology is just as reprehensible - it will not solve reproductive problems but will lead to misery for intelligent, sensitive beings".

These were transferred, along with placental material, into surrogate mothers.

These pups survived 48 hours after birth, but the researchers are planning to improve the process so that the bipaternal mice live to adulthood.

Dr Li added: 'This research shows us what's possible.

Even so, the researchers hope to study the techniques further in the future using other research animals.

Dr Teresa Holm, of the University of Auckland's Department of Molecular Medicine and Pathology, said the major impact of this work was the furthering of our fundamental understanding of how imprinting operated in mammals, and how it acted as a barrier to uniparental reproduction.

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