Scientists prove same-sex mammals can make babies

A team of scientists in China has successfully generated offspring created from the DNA of two same-sex mice. This is the first time such a feat has been accomplished with mammals, and it could have huge implications for humans.

In a paper entitled “Generation of Bimaternal and Bipaternal Mice from Hypomethylated Haploid ESCs with Imprinting Region Deletions,” recently published on ScienceDirect, the scientists describe the incredibly complex process. In creating same-sex offspring the team worked with both bipaternal (two dads) and bimaternal (you guessed it, two moms) DNA sequences with varying degrees of success.

The offspring resulting from bimaternal DNA, edited using CRISPR, were found healthy and capable of reproducing with regular mice. According to the scientists they were indistinguishable from mice conceived under normal circumstances.

Bipaternal mice weren’t quite so resilient. Only about two percent of the attempts to create offspring by manipulating the DNA of two male mice resulted in success, and of those none lived longer than a few days.

The method by which the team created the offspring isn’t exactly what most people would consider natural. SingularityHub’s Shelly Fan called it a “Frankenstein-ish process,” and we agree.

In order to create bimaternal mice offspring, the team mutated specific DNA-carrying cells to present with only half their normal information, these are called “haploid cells.”

The reason they only have half the info is so that they can be combined with a cell from the other mother to make a complete fertilized egg, much like what happens when sperm and egg combine. The resulting mom-to-mom cell mashup is then implanted in the womb of a surrogate mouse-mom, and the rest is business as usual.

Credit: Li et al.