Chinese Scientists Have Successfully Bred Mice From Two Females Using CRISPR

Friday, 12 October 2018 - 11:09AM
Genetic Engineering
Friday, 12 October 2018 - 11:09AM
Chinese Scientists Have Successfully Bred Mice From Two Females Using CRISPR
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Sorry fellas, but you can sit this one out. According to CNN, researchers at the Chinese Academy of Sciences have successfully bred healthy mice using gene editing technology and two female parents. 

In a study published in the journal Cell Stem Cell, the scientists point out that unisexual reproduction is not uncommon in lower vertebrates but that it is not something seen in mammals. "We were interested in the question of why mammals can only undergo sexual reproduction," Qi Zhou said in a news release. "We tried to find out whether normal mice with two female parents, or even mice with two male parents, could be produced using haploid embryonic stem cells with gene deletions." Zhou added that deleting genes to produce offspring from two female mice has been done in the past, but previous methods were hard and produced babies that "showed defective features." With the very controversial CRISPR Cas9 tool and a newly developed method that used stem cells with half the number of chromosomes (haploid embryonic stem cells), Zhou and his colleagues were able to eliminate those defects. 

The modified haploid embryonic cells were inserted into normal mouse eggs, and the eggs were implanted into a surrogate. Of the 209 embryos used in the study, 29 became healthy mice pups. The success rate using only male parents was much lower, with 500 embryos producing two pups that both died within two days of being born. Not deterred by the percentages, the scientists say that the study was enlightening. "This research shows us what's possible," said Wei Li of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. "We saw that the defects in bimaternal mice can be eliminated and that bipaternal reproduction barriers in mammals can also be crossed through imprinting modification. We also revealed some of the most important imprinted regions that hinder the development of mice with same sex parents, which are also interesting for studying genomic imprinting and animal cloning."

Earlier this year, John Oliver did a 20-minute presentation on Last Week Tonight about CRISPR technology and why it maybe shouldn't be in the hands of everyone, or anyone. Despite his warnings and warnings from others, some scientists are continuing to explore just how far they can push gene editing, even if it's for less than a 14% success rate.

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