And now the latest development from the world of science:
Scientists have created mice that are the genetic product of two fathers, the latest in a series of unusual experiments in mammalian reproduction.
Researchers at University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center and elsewhere first engineered a female mouse whose eggs contained the DNA from a male. When the female was mated with another male, the offspring had genetic contributions entirely from two males. The study appears online in the peer-reviewed journal Biology of Reproduction.
While the achievement is technically intriguing, its practical benefits are far from clear. Any move to try the same experiment in people is certain to be more complicated and controversial.
The study describes the technique as “a new form of mammalian reproduction” that could potentially be used to improve livestock breeds or preserve endangered species. More provocatively, the authors argue that if certain technical hurdles can be overcome, “then some day two men could produce their own genetic sons and daughters.” But those technical hurdles are extremely high.
“It has been a weird project, but we wanted to see if it could be done” in mice, says Richard Behringer, lead author of the study and a developmental geneticist at M.D. Anderson in Houston.
Stay tuned for more developments — and controversy — as this new twist takes on its own life later in this 21st century.
Joe Gandelman is a former fulltime journalist who freelanced in India, Spain, Bangladesh and Cypress writing for publications such as the Christian Science Monitor and Newsweek. He also did radio reports from Madrid for NPR’s All Things Considered. He has worked on two U.S. newspapers and quit the news biz in 1990 to go into entertainment. He also has written for The Week and several online publications, did a column for Cagle Cartoons Syndicate and has appeared on CNN.