Gay male couples could have babies together in a landmark experiment that could see children conceived with skin cells.
Scientists insist the scenario is ‘speculative’, but said it could be possible.
The team worked with mice to produce healthy offspring while bypassing the normal fertilizing process of an egg cell with sperm – without cloning.
The result shows sperm could be potentially fused with ordinary cells derived from skin or other tissue to create embroyos.It could mean gay men could use DNA from both of them to create a child.
This new research could also help women with fertility issues and aid in the preservation of endangered species.
Lead scientist Dr Tony Perry, a molecular embryologist from the University of Bath, said: ‘Our work challenges the dogma, held since early embryologists first observed mammalian eggs around 1827 and observed fertilization 50 years later, that only an egg cell fertilized with a sperm cell can result in live mammalian birth.
He added: ‘This is speculative – it’s entirely speculative and fanciful.’
Nature Communications, the journal which published the study, said the 30 mouse pups were born with a success rate of 24%.
This is compared with 1% to 2% success rate for offspring created by cloning, as seen with Dolly the sheep.
Some of the mice went on to have naturally occurring offspring.
Dr Paul Colville-Nash, from the Medical Research Council, which funded the study, said: ‘This is an exiting piece of research which may help us to understand more about how human life begins and what controls the viability of embryos, mechanisms which may be important in fertility.
‘It may one day even have implications for how we treat infertility, though that’s probably still a long way off.’