The consequences of blogging »« Thoughts on grad school

Making a biological child for gay couples

“Is there a way to have two people of the same sex have a kid who is biologically related to both? (Either gay or lesbian couples)”

Short answer: Yes! But it’s complicated.

Long-ish answer: Creating a child from same-sex parents isn’t as easy as just combining the DNA from two eggs or two sperm. The main problem is genetic imprinting, where gene expression is modified epigenetically. That just means the actual sequence isn’t changed, but something else is edited, like adding methyl groups or modifying histones (the proteins that help wind up DNA).

And depending on if you’re a mother or a father, you genetically imprint your gametes differently. And since you generally need one functioning copy of these select genes, it doesn’t help to have two female or two male versions where they’re both turned on or off (too much or too little can both be harmful).

While that seems impossible to overcome, science is pretty impressive. Researchers have already overcome this in mice, where two egg cells were used to produce fatherless mice. So yes, it has been done in another animal!

However, who knows when or if we’ll ever see it in humans. There are always ethical concerns when you’re dealing with human subjects, and it’s hard to predict if offspring would be completely healthy using this method. I think you’d have a hard time getting this past a review board since it’s not a necessary medical procedure – same-sex couples don’t need biologically related children, even if it would be nice. But, you never know.

Comments

  1. says

    OK. So lesbians can do it, well lesbian mice ;)But what about two sperm cells? You’d need an egg to put the material in wouldn’t you?I admit I’m asking this from an arts background, haven’t done biology since I was sixteen.

  2. m. says

    Well, the mice in question are transgenics with a messed up Igf2/H19 cluster… So, basically you’ll have to create a genetically altered clone of one of the prospective parents first. :)

  3. says

    Human cloning will satisfy the gays and lesbians’ near impossible goal of having children. Too bad that it is illegal in most countries I know, but it is possible to get around the rules by doing it in a country with no laws prohibiting it and then transfer the baby back to the US.I want to see human cloning made possible in my life time.

  4. says

    @Paul Lin – it is not “near impossible” for gays or lesbians to have children. As Jen pointed out, gays/lesbians don’t need genetically related children to be parents. There are lots of options out there, and we’ve been using them for decades.I’m queer as a 3 dollar bill, and I’m the mother of a child who does not share my genes. He is genetically related to my partner, and we are both his legal parents. I really wish people would lose this fixation on a child having your genes as some kind of holy grail of parenthood. My genes are the least of what I have to give to my child.

  5. says

    Iirc most cloning is done by taking DNA from a cell and putting it in a host egg that has had all it’s DNA removed somehow. I really don’t know how they go about it, but the actual egg itself is like semen in that it doesn’t carry a genetic signature, I think, so it doesn’t necessarily effect the fetus on a DNA level. However, last I knew clones had sketchy survival rates to begin with. Combining that with the absolutely ludicrous tasks of combining the DNA of two sperm cells and implanting that result in the egg, it seems like it’s going to take a while. In addition, you’d still need a surrogate, and I think that the child would end up with her mitochondria, I believe. I’m not sure when that’s introduced into the Zygote. Still, sounds like the roots of good science fiction if nothing else.

  6. Bleyddyn says

    Actually, as stated, the problem can be solved right now if one or both members of the couple have siblings or other close relatives who are willing to act as sperm/egg donor.Lots of possible combinations and the children could be ‘biologically related’ to both parents. Just not as related as parent/children “usually” are.

  7. mouse says

    I wish more straight people were as willing to adopt as gay couples are. I find it offensive to see someone go through nearly a decade of fertility treatments so they can “have their own” when thousands of children are out their without families (including many in the “desired” infant category).

  8. says

    Well the question is whether gay couples are more willing to adopt because they, males especially, have less options than a heterosexual couples? If gay couples had the same medical options of having biological children, willing surrogates or artificial wombs along with some way of combining their DNA, would they adopt or go through the expense of the medical procedure? I think most gays would go through the expense. But, that’s coming from a hetro male who is “not childless but child-free”.

  9. hcbowman says

    Sadly, not every state allows homosexual couples to adopt. Florida’s adoption statute explicitly prohibits it, and Connecticut’s allows sexual orientation to be a factor in selecting adopting parents. There may also be de facto discrimination in other states that don’t explicitly protect the rights of gays and lesbians.

  10. says

    I don’t see the necessity of having genetically related children, except in places where we can’t adopt, it’s really the only option – and makes it harder for the state to take kids away from gays. However, in places where we can adopt, and as laws change, I think both more gays and straights need to consider adopting in stead of having biological children. We’re reaching overpopulation as it is (based on our current unsustainable lifestyles). There are millions of children in Easter Europe, Asia and Africa who need parents.

  11. moonablaze says

    AMEN! I’m a hetro female with full biological capability for child bearing, but I have next to no interest in childbearing. I am however very interested in child REARING. I hope to be able to adopt kids who need a family when the time comes (given that I’m studying pediatric occupational therapy, I’ll be a pretty good candidate for special needs adoption).

  12. says

    from a sciency POW, this is deeply fascinating. But I do wish more people would consider adopted kids as “real” and as really “their own”. I wonder if the attachment to one’s own biological spawn is cultural or biological…[/opening can of worms]

  13. giffy says

    Only some places have strong review boards. While this is cutting edge shit and confined at the moment to the kinds of places that do, in 20 years say that will no longer be the case. Mail some cells to Bermuda, pay your money, and fly out nine months later to pick up your new kiddo.

  14. says

    It’s certainly a biological urge, in my opinion. As for adoptable children in Africa, Asia and Russia, that has it’s own problems. Everything from damaged kids who are given poor treatment that warps them to governments that are reluctant to send their kids away unless you are a celebrity. Part of the problem with overpopulation is that undeveloped nations have overpopulation problems and developed nations (most of Europe, the US and Japan) have underpopulation problems. The developed nations aren’t breeding enough kids to take up the slack for the aging workforce. But, if you allow immigration to cover that you risk a different set of problems, witness Germany and France for examples of this.

  15. says

    wtf?the problems with immigration in Germany are primarily racism-based, not immigrant based. Don’t let xenophobic propaganda against Teh Ebil Overbreeding Invading Mooslims fool you; withing one or two generations, most of them become “muslim” in the same way the vast majority of Europeans are “christian”.

  16. says

    I take a generally dim view of human parenting, but I don’t imagine that possession of common genes improves it in any way. On the contrary, it may intensify delusional expectations of the sprogs coming out just like one’s own (narcissistic) self, and thereby to abusive behaviour to make it so. The most important category for parenting is not same-genes or different-sex but non-fuckwit.

  17. says

    I disagree with you completely. There have been numerous accounts of the “Muslim Slums” outside of Paris, for examples, that are becoming no-go zones for police and where women risk being raped for dressing in ordinary street clothes. The US doesn’t seem to have the same problems of assimilation as Europe but it does have problems. Japan’s problem is associated with low birth rates and xenophobia that limits immigration and citizenship.

  18. says

    Of course, if it ever turns out the homosexuality has a genetic cause and the genetic markers are identified then how many couples will have children with a genetic predisposition towards being gay? I suspect that most heterosexual couples would immediately either abort or try some form of gene therapy, if it was available.

  19. says

    the banlieues are France’s inner cities. the reason for their existence is not islam, but racism, poverty, and exclusion from mainstream french society.don’t believe the xenophobic lies of racists. Immigration isn’t destroying Europe any more than immigration of hispanics is destroying america.

  20. Twin-Skies says

    I am reminded of this anime I watched before, Vandread.One planet was inhabited entirely by males, and another by females. I had always wondered how they managed to populate despite having one gender.

  21. cathy says

    Yeah, there’s also sperm donation…which gives genetic relation to one, and surrogacy. LGBT people aren’t all sterile. Though I am, which is a fun one when dealing with the issue of me being bi. I once pointed out to a anti-gay guy that my sex with ladies was as likely to make a baby as my sex with dudes. The expression on his face was priceless.

  22. the_Siliconopolitan says

    ” I think you’d have a hard time getting this past a review board since it’s not a necessary medical procedure – same-sex couples don’t need biologically related children, even if it would be nice. But, you never know.”Yet somehow IVF treatment is seen as a human right. One of the few good things to come out of our fucktarded government’s latest attempt to save money over here, has been the end to infertility treatments on the NHS.But of course they’ll eventually cave in to popular pressure. Fucktards.

  23. Emilia says

    A bit about adoption. I’m a heterosexual woman with one biological child, and I’m hoping someday when she’s a little older to expand my family through adopt. Leaving aside the question of whether people who have never adopted themselves have the moral authority to tell others to do so rather than having a biological child, the fact is adoption isn’t easy. First, you have to go through the “home study” process in your home country or province or state. If you don’t qualify in any way – let’s say you are gay or lesbian, don’t have enough money, etcetera – your plans to adopt can be stopped in their tracks. Now let’s say you want to adopt a child domestically, in my case Canada. You might be denied a certain child if you’re not of the same race or in some cases even same religion as him or her. Or even if single parents aren’t outright banned from adopting, a two-parent family is sometimes “strongly preferred.” Now try to adopt abroad. Whether you qualify there is also a bit of a crapshoot. For instance, the few Muslim countries that do permit adoption only give children to Muslims. Many countries don’t allow single and/or gay people to adopt (and no, most countries don’t recognize same-sex marriages even if they are in the adopter’s homeland). Or you’re out of luck if you have a chronic condition – in my case, my MS might disqualify me, even though my only symptoms are seizures, which are controlled through medication. And the laws of source countries can change from year to year (ex. China). So yes, adoption’s a great thing, but before you say “just adopt,” it might not be as simple as that.

  24. Valhar2000 says

    The mitochondria would come form the egg you have hollowed out. You might be able to remove them and implant mitochondria from one of the parents, however. Maybe even form both parents: mitochondria form different donors might interfere with each other, but they might not, so…

  25. says

    I don’t know whether this would even be possible in human children…

    the Prader Willie syndrome is a syndrome on the 15th chromosome.

    it occurs when there is a deletion of printing mistake in the fathers DNA or when there are two chromosomes nr 15 from the mother and non from the father due to a mistake. This part of the mother’s DNA is not active so when there is anything wrong with the father his DNA the child will get the prader willie syndrome (kids get hyperfagia, have an IQ of max. 85 and growth and muscle deficiencies)

Leave a Reply