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Reproduction of the species no longer needs the copulation of a male and a female as scientists have successfully created sperm and eggs from stem cells. Though it would appear that one of humanity's favorite activities has lost its prime goal, this scientific breakthrough has pushed stem cell research and genetic engineering through a whole new level, raising numerous future possible benefits, as well as a few concerns.

Scientists at Stanford University were able to use stem cells taken from embryos, but are working to refine the process using only skin cells. By using a person's own skin it will lower the rate of the lab-grown sperm or eggs being rejected by the body, while also allowing scientists to create 'male-eggs' from male skin, and 'female sperm' from female skin opening the possibility for gay couples to have genetically ancestral children.  This also means that those who suffer from infertility caused by cancer or because of defects in sperm and egg development, will be able to have children.

Now that we can genetically create children out of a lab with a few samples of skin cells, we can continue to refine the genetic make-up of our species and "refine" our genes, potentially putting evolution into our own hands.

 

Image: "Egg and Sperm" by wellcome images on Flickr courtesy of Creative Commons Licensing.

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