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Assisted reproductive technology
Assisted reproductive technology (ART) is the use of reproductive technology to treat infertility. This is today the only application of reproductive technology to increase reproduction that is used routinely. Examples include in vitro fertilization and its possible expansions.
- artificial insemination
- artificial reproduction
- cloning (see human cloning for the special case of human beings)
- cryopreservation of sperm, oocytes, embryos
- embryo transfer
- fertility medication
- hormone treatment
- in vitro fertilization
- preimplantation genetic diagnosis
Reproductive technology also includes methods to give an individual prognosis about future chances of pregnancy, facilitating an informed choice of family planning. In women, such methods include mapping of a woman's ovarian reserve, follicular dynamics and associated biomarkers. In males, it includes semen analysis.
Contraception is a form of reproductive technology that enables people to control their fertility.
The following techniques, in contrast to ART, are not yet routinely used. In fact, most of them are even at the developmental stage:
In recent decades, a new possibility for LGBT parenting, same-sex procreation (where two women could have a daughter with equal genetic contributions from both women, or where two men could have a son or daughter with equal genetic contributions from both men), has become a possibility, through the creation of either female sperm or male eggs from the cells of adult women and men. With female sperm and male eggs, lesbian and gay couples wishing to become parents would not have to rely on a third party donor of sperm or egg.
The first significant development occurred in 1991, in a patent application filed by U.Penn. scientists to fix male sperm by extracting some sperm, correcting a genetic defect in vitro, and injecting the sperm back into the male's testicles. While the vast majority of the patent application dealt with male sperm, one line suggested that the procedure would work with XX cells, i.e., cells from an adult woman to make female sperm.
In the two decades that followed, the idea of female sperm became more of a reality. In 1997, scientists partially confirmed such techniques by creating chicken female sperm in a similar manner. They did so by injecting blood stem cells from an adult female chicken into a male chicken's testicles. Some years later, other Japanese scientists created female offspring by combining the eggs of two adult mice.
In 2008, a flurry of announcements revealed further developments with human same-sex reproduction, with a patent application filed by an American researcher specifically on methods for creating human female sperm using artificial or natural Y chromosomes and testicular transplantation. A UK-based group, in an interview, predicted they would be able to create human female sperm within five years. Another group at the Butantan Institute in Brazil is working on creating male eggs from embryonic stem cells, and if successful, from adult skin cells, though their current experiments are with mice. All of these developments and more are listed in Timeline of Research in Human Same-sex Procreation.
Also, ethical issues of human enhancement arise when reproductive technology has evolved to be a potential technology for not only reproductively inhibited people but even for otherwise reproductively healthy people.
See individual subarticles for details
- Films and other fiction depicting contemporary emotional struggles of assisted reproductive technology have had an upswing first in the latter part of the 2000s decade, although the techniques have been available for decades. Yet, the amount of people that can relate to it
- Science fiction has tackled the themes of creating life through other than the conventional methods since Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. In the 20th century, Aldous Huxley's Brave New World (1932) was the first major fictional work to anticipate the possible social consequences of reproductive technology. Its largely negative view was reversed when the author revisited the same themes in his utopian final novel, Island (1962).
- Nelson, S. M.; Telfer, E. E.; Anderson, R. A. (2012). "The ageing ovary and uterus: New biological insights". Human Reproduction Update 19 (1): 67–83. doi:10.1093/humupd/dms043. PMC 3508627. PMID 23103636.
- US 5858354 Repopulation of testicular Seminiferous tubules with foreign cells, corresponding resultant germ cells, and corresponding resultant animals and progeny
- Tagami T, Matsubara Y, Hanada H, Naito M (June 1997). "Differentiation of female chicken primordial germ cells into spermatozoa in male gonads". Dev Growth Differ. 39 (3): 267–71. doi:10.1046/j.1440-169X.1997.t01-2-00002.x. PMID 9227893.
- "Methods for Female Mammalian Spermatogenesis and Male Mammalian Oogenesis Using Synthetic Nanobiology" (PDF). Gregory Aharonian.
- "Color illustration of female sperm making process" (PDF). Human Samesex Reproduction Project.
- MacRae, Fiona (February 1, 2008). "Scientists turn bone marrow into sperm". The Courier and Mail (Australia — Feb. 2008).
- "Males Now Unnecessary — Women Create Their Own Sperm". Canada Free Press (Feb. 2008).
- chicagotribune.com --> Heartache of infertility shared on stage, screen By Colleen Mastony, Tribune reporter. June 21, 2009