The Guardian reports that Dutch researchers have been awarded a €2.9 million grant to develop a prototype artificial uterus. Though artificial uteri have several benefits, they also raise a multitude of ethical questions.
Anna Smajdor has written an article in which she argues that artificial wombs, or ectogenesis as she calls it, are a moral imperative. Her argument is that pregnancy creates a fundamental inequality between men and women. Continue reading Smajdor on Ectogenesis
Tony Perry of Bath University argues that skin cells could be used to creat mammalian embryos, both of endangered species and humans. As a fertility treatment for humans, this has several potential applications. Continue reading From skin to egg
In our post Breakthrough artificial egg cells we discussed the possibility to create egg cells from skin tissue. In that article we asserted that one of the main advantage of this development is the possibility to avoid surgery to collect egg cells from a woman. However, this procedure still require a biopsy.
But science, especially in the field of stem cell research, is making fast progress. According to the science daily scientists have succeed in harvesting stem cells from urine. The importance of this development is clear, taking urine samples is one of the most convenient medical procedures (from the prospect of the patient/donor).
If scientists can succeed in creating egg cells from urine stem cells, then egg cell donation will become as easy as sperm donation. Since urine samples can be collected everywhere, this also allows to circumvent strict laws against (commercial) egg cell donation which are enacted by some countries.
In my post Alternative for Abortion I discussed Robin Baker’s proposal for a new system of contraception. In this system people are sterilized at young age, while their gametes are stored ex vivo. However, this would involve two invasive medical procedures in case of women. The possibility of creating egg cells from stem cells extracted from urine, will make this system of contraception much more attractive