Man-made sperm: Are scientists running out of things to research?
Recently, a group of British scientists claimed to have created human sperm in a laboratory.
According to an article from the Associated Press, Karim Nayernia, the lead scientist on this project, said that within the next decade his team’s research will enable men with fertility issues father children.
First, I have a problem with the way in which this story is being presented.
The headlines in all the papers claim that these scientists created sperm.
This isn’t really accurate.
Only God creates things ex nihilo (See Genesis 1).
The scientists just took embryonic stem cells and modified them to resemble and function as human spermatozoa.
Though stem cell research is legal in the United Kingdom, this whole experiment seems counterproductive to me, since embryonic stem cells themselves come from embryos right after fertilization (the union of sperm and an egg).
According to Answers in Genesis, a pro-creation ministry, "Many involved with the research of embryonic stem cells do not believe a new person begins at conception or don’t care. Embryonic stem cells are viewed as property, not people.
"However, the Bible clearly indicates that life does begin at conception (Psalm 51:5, 139:13–15; Jeremiah 1:5). We are made in God’s image and are image bearers from conception to death (Genesis 1:27).2 Therefore, harvesting ESCs violates God’s commandment not to murder."
The functionality of Nayerina’s "sperm" also draws a red flag.
According to the AP, scientists familiar with Nayerina’s research, say the “sperm” don’t even do what they were designed to do.
"I am unconvinced from the data presented in this paper that the cells produced by Professor Nayernia’s group from embryonic stem cells can be accurately called ‘spermatazoa,’" said Allan Pacey, a professor at the University of Sheffield via a statement.
All this makes me wonder if scientists are running out of things to research because within the past couple of months, we’ve seen nightlight monkeys; scientists pondering the reasons why the thumb of the right hand is on the left-hand side; and now Frankensperm.
Though I’m not afraid of cloning, as it occurs in nature (potatoes and other plants reproduce by cloning), and might be beneficial in some ways, I’m actually having flashbacks about an episode of the "Outer Limits" just thinking about Dr. Nayernia’s experiments. In an episode, aptly entitled “Unnatural Selection,“ genetically modified children are all the rage.
From childhood and even into adulthood, these designer children are smarter, more attractive and wittier than unenhanced children. Though having all these traits is desirable, there’s a dark side. The genetic enhancements can turn children into monsters.
How’s that for a plot twist? Pretty good I think–Especially since it drives home the point that some human genetic modification has potentially harmful consequences.
If scientists can manufacture sperm in the lab, pretty soon they will be able to manipulate the sperm’s core DNA so that specific genes turn on on-demand.
Though the scientists may not have intended for such, I really can see this leading to designer babies in the vein of Huxley’s “A Brave New World.”
However, instead of creating a society comprised of manufactured, caste-imprinted clones, people will tote their clones around in their purses instead of the little dogs that are so popular now.
And that’s so, not hot.
–Tiffany Orr, The Underground managing editor