Sperm cells from skin cells

Written By: catherinewells | Categorized In: Short Stories, Writing and Publishing

I was listening to NPR the other day–I forget which program–and they interviewed a researcher who has successfully taken skin cells, treated them to make them blank like T-cells, then injected them into sperm-bearing places in mice.  The result:  they became primitive sperm cells.  The idea, of course, is to help infertile couples conceive, but the ramifications are…interesting.  The article pointed out that some enterprising person might collect skin cells from famous people, or even dead people (provided the cells were still viable), and create offspring for that individual.  Even without the individual’s knowledge or consent.

Wow.  Now, there’s a–if you’ll pardon the pun–fertile idea for science fiction if I ever heard one.  Stories about cloning generally start with an egg and involve the participation of the donor, but this…  You could snatch a hair, and if it had a couple of skin cells attached, you’d have your material.  The NPR piece talked about possible legislation to forbid making someone a parent without his consent, but that would just force the practice into the black market.

Hm.  What kind of a sleazebag would steal skin cells, turn them into sperm, and sell them?  And what kind of desperate or obsessive people would buy them?  Definitely a story in there somewhere, if I can just find it…

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