Researchers from the University of Hiroshima (Japan) have learned to choose the sex of the offspring of animals with artificial insemination. Scientists have successfully conducted an experiment on mice and claim that their method is effective for all mammals. It is reported by the journal PLOS Biology.
Mammalian cells contain two types of chromosomes, X and Y. In females, all cells, including reproductive, contain only X chromosomes, and in males, all cells, except reproductive, carry chromosomes of both types. Male germ cells - spermatozoa - may contain chromosomes of one of the types - only X or only Y.
- The technology of sex selection as a result of artificial insemination
If the egg, which, like all cells of the female body, contains only X-chromosomes, is fertilized with a sperm of the first type, the fetal cells will contain XX-chromosomes, that is, the baby will be female. Fertilization with a sperm of the second type will cause the appearance of male offspring, with XY chromosomes. Since cells of both types are produced in equal shares, the conception of males and females occurs with the same probability.
Japanese biologists have obtained a chemical substance that reduces the motor activity of sperm with X chromosomes, but does not affect their viability and ability to fertilize.
- Japanese biologists got a substance that disrupts energy synthesis in sperm with X chromosomes
- © BlackJack3D
As a result, with artificial insemination, scientists were able to choose fast or slow sperm and combine X- and Y-chromosomes in the embryo.
In experiments on mice, the use of sperm of the "fast" type in 90% of cases led to the birth of males. The use of sperm with “slow” cells in 81% of cases ended in the birth of females.
The authors of the work indicate that methods for separating spermatozoa carrying X- and Y-chromosomes were known before, but they were much more complex and expensive, and could also damage the fetal DNA. New technology is simpler and cheaper. In addition, when the effect of the substance created by Japanese specialists on sperm cells ceases, they quickly restore the ability to move.
Researchers claim that their method works for all types of mammals and is suitable for both in vitro fertilization (IVF) and artificial insemination, which is used in animal husbandry.
Project manager Professor Samayuki Simada did not rule out that the new method would be used in reproductive medicine, provided that it was possible to overcome the inevitable ethical limitations.
- A new method can be used in reproductive medicine
- © Montes-Bradley
“We have already successfully used this method to determine the sex of the offspring of cattle and pigs,” said Professor Simada. “However, with all the usefulness of this technology, the prospects for its application in the field of human reproduction are now unclear and are fraught with serious ethical issues.”