Scientists have created mice with two biological fathers by generating eggs from male cells, it was announced earlier this month – a breakthrough that could possibly pave the way towards same-sex couples having a biological child together in the future.
Katsuhiko Hayashi, a pioneer in the field who led the advancement, said he believed it will technically be possible to create a viable human egg from a male skin cell within a decade, although others have critiqued that timeline as improbable, given that scientists have yet to create viable lab-grown human eggs from female cells.
Discussing the development on AM on Wednesday morning, co-host Ryan Bridge – who is in a same-sex relationship – admitted he and his partner may consider having children in the future if the breakthrough could open up new possibilities for human reproduction.
He also touched on his thoughts on surrogacy, saying the option – while life-changing for many families – doesn’t currently appeal to him and his partner.
“My partner and I have spoken a lot about having children. I know everyone has different views on it, and I totally respect everyone’s opinions. But for us, the idea of involving a random woman who would donate us an egg – what would the relationship be like with that woman and the child? You wouldn’t want to deprive the child of a relationship [with the mother]. For us, I just don’t think children are going to be on the cards,” he said candidly on-air.
“However, if this breakthrough happened, if this became a reality [in humans], I think we would seriously consider [it].
“I don’t want to diminish anything that anyone else does – all power to you. But for us, it’s something we’ve discussed – and haven’t spoken about publicly. Sorry, mum.”
Weighing in, co-host Michael O’Keeffe noted that in order for two men to be the biological fathers of a child, the lab-grown egg would still need to be implanted into a surrogate in order for the child to be carried throughout gestation and birthed.
“You still need the female to carry and give birth, would that problem still exist?” O’Keeffe asked Bridge, pointing out that the surrogate still may have feelings of attachment towards the child, despite it not being biologically theirs.
“I think that would be fine, because they wouldn’t be biologically the mother,” Bridge responded, to which O’Keeffe replied: “They’d still have those feelings, potentially – they’ve had to carry this baby for nine months.”
The discussion eventually led to Bridge turning to his co-host Melissa Chan-Green, who is currently pregnant, and jokingly asking whether she would consider being a surrogate for their child.
“Would you carry our baby? For us,” he asked, to which a visibly shocked Chan-Green responded: “This is quite the question for me to consider right now.”
“You’ve been doing such a good job with this one, I’ve been admiring the way you’ve been handling it all – you’ve not been complaining!” Bridge joked.
“You don’t see me at home, my poor husband gets it,” she laughed.
“That’s the beauty of it, we would be at a distance – we wouldn’t have to put up with any of that. It would be a working relationship – ‘how are you feeling? Oh, that’s good, see you in nine months’,” Bridge quipped as the co-hosts erupted into laughter.
“You just want the maternity leave, he thinks I’m going on holiday,” Chan-Green hit back.
As the show went to an ad break, Bridge can be heard muttering: “I think that was a no.”
According to The Guardian, Hayashi’s team is now attempting to replicate the achievement with human cells.
“Purely in terms of technology, it will be possible [in humans] even in 10 years,” he said, adding he personally would be in favour of the technology being used clinically to allow two men to have a baby if it was shown to be safe, The Guardian reported.
“I don’t know whether they’ll be available for reproduction,” he said. “That is not a question just for the scientific programme, but also for [society].”
It’s believed the technique could also pave the way towards treatment for severe forms of infertility, including women with Turner’s syndrome, where one copy of the X chromosome is missing or partly missing.