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Scientists have created mice pups from two female mice. No male mice or sperm were involved. The offspring were all female. How did this happen and will humans soon have the option to create babies without men? Parthenogenesis, or virgin birth, is defined as reproduction without fertilization. It occurs naturally in some plant and insect species. It does not occur naturally in mammals, but like many other procedures of our day, it can now occur with the assistance of scientists.
Kaguya, the first parthenogenetic mammal – engineering triumph or lottery winner?
A significant milestone in reproductive science has been achieved with the birth of the mouse ‘Kaguya’, the first viable parthenogenetic mammal (Kono et al. 2004). The work was carried out by Dr Tomohiro Kono and colleagues, and represents a major technical achievement involving the production of many hundreds of reconstructed eggs, from which ten live, and eighteen dead, pups were obtained at day 19.5 of gestation. Of the two surviving pups, one was killed for gene expression studies and the other, Kaguya, was fostered and survived to reproduce successfully by conventional means. This work further expands what is achievable in artificial reproduction and may have important implications for understanding aspects of embryonic development and gene regulation. However, contrary to the views of some commentators in the popular press, it is unlikely to have a major impact on human artificial reproductive technologies.