LONDON When Australian scientists announced earlier this month that they had created a mouse embryo without the use of sperm, they sparked a fiery debate. What, asked the commentators, would the nature of the family be should men not make their traditional contribution? Yet, ironically, Orly Lacham-Kaplan — a male-fertility expert — who developed the technique along with colleagues from the Monash Institute for Reproduction and Development, Melbourne, claimed it was awareness of the infertility problems associated with a low sperm count that led her to explore whether cells other than sperm could fertilise an egg.

Describing the work, which so far is only in vitro, Lacham-Kaplan told the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology, Lausanne, Switzerland that her team had grown fertilised eggs into blastocyts. Next they intend to transfer the embryos into the wombs of surrogate mice, "where," she says, "they will hopefully become...

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