News and commentary about the Great Frontiers

ISS007-E-10807 (21 July 2003) --- This view of Earth's horizon as the sunsets over the Pacific Ocean was taken by an Expedition 7 crewmember onboard the International Space Station (ISS). Anvil tops of thunderclouds are also visible. Credit: Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit, NASA Johnson Space Center

Image Credit: ISS007-E-10807 (21 July 2003) – Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit, NASA Johnson Space Center

Two Female Mice Produce Female Daughter


I once read an article about the possibility of two males having a baby based on both their genetic material through future medical techniques. The article specifically stated producing a child from the genetic material of two females would be much more difficult, if not impossible.

The impossible was born in Japan, a mouse named Kaguya. She grew to sexual maturity. Details of the project were published this week in Nature.

Because successful embryo imprinting requires particular keys from both a mother and a father, one of the mothers had to be genetically altered so that her eggs included some of the keys normally associated with male germ cells. An egg from this mutant female was then fused with the egg from a normal female. Out of nearly 500 attempts, only two were successful.

The research helps to clarify the underlying mechanics of reproduction, while opening up new avenues of research that could have far-reaching ramifications on other technologies, such as cloning and genetic manipulation. As always the case with pure scientific research, it is not clear where this will lead. Researchers were quick to note that such techniques in humans would not be successful due to the more complex imprinting mechanics at work in humans. Ethical concerns have also been raised, of course.

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