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Interspecies surrogate motherhood

  1. Jul 11, 2011 #1
    IVF technology (in vitro fertilization) allows having children even for those couples who meet certain health problems in reproductive area. Sometimes, however, apart from IVF, one may need a surrogate mother for to gestate a conceived child. Search for a surrogate mother could be easier and cheaper if a female of some animal, e. g. apes or pigs, could gestate a human embryo. This may also help to solve the demographic problem by opening special farms in countries suffering from depopulation. What does the experimental biology says in regard to this idea?
     
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  3. Jul 11, 2011 #2

    Evo

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    You think some countries are suffering depopultion due to infertility?

    Please post the mainstream peer reveiwed studies that support that.
     
  4. Jul 12, 2011 #3

    Ryan_m_b

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    There are indeed countries where the population is declining but this isn't because of infertility.

    As for your question about interspecies surrogacy it's extremely unlikely. There has been work with closely related species (I'll look for some links later today) but it is unlikely that a human could be gestated in anything but a human. The biologies of the animals you suggest are just far too different to allow the creation of a healthy baby, remember that a womb isn't just an oven that holds the offspring whilst it grows. It actively contributes to the growth of the child by interacting in specific ways.
     
  5. Jul 12, 2011 #4
    The greatest challenge in Interspecific pregnancy is preventing an immunological response. Remember that anything in our bodies that is genetically not similar to our own cells (every cell in our body has that same DNA) is met with an immunological response (save for the symbiotic bacteria in our digestive tracts). A baby shares only half the genes of its mother and hence can draw some some WBC attention. And this is why we have specific mechanisms to suppress this response and thus prevent the child from being killed inside the womb. This is called Gestational Immune Tolerance. An interspecific pregnancy would thus require much greater tolerance (since genetic differences are very large between species).

    In addition, structural differences will pose further difficulties. However interspecific pregnancy is still being studied and we might get to see some major advancements in the future. Despite that, I don't think it will be used for human surrogates. Like Ryan said, the differences are too large.

    For more information check
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interspecific_pregnancy
     
  6. Jul 12, 2011 #5
    Russia is experiencing depopulation at present days (see http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/5056672.stm" [Broken]). It is not due to infertility? It is a socially driven phenomenon partly due to the demographic aftershocks of World War 2, economic reforms of 1990s, changing family model, urbanization etc. Regardless to its causes, the animal surrogacy can be a method for resisting depopulation. Children gestated in animal wombs can be then adopted or can grow up in orphanages like regular orphans.

    Saying "extremely unlikely" is nevertheless an uncertain answer. Maybe you know some reports with negative results of direct experiments?

    Of cause, I understand that experimentation with humans is a delicate subject. One can try interspecies surrogacy between rats and guinea pigs or between rats and hamsters. Maybe you know something about such experiments?

    If we give up mammals and turn to birds, we can try to implant a goose zygote into a swan egg and vice versa. What are chances to get a normal gosling from such a swan egg? Are there any experiments known to you?
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 5, 2017
  7. Jul 12, 2011 #6

    Evo

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    :uhh:

    I think we should take a minute to read some of Ruslan's thoughts in order to get a proper understanding of what he's talking about.

    https://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?t=294086
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 5, 2017
  8. Jul 12, 2011 #7

    Ryan_m_b

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    Leaving aside the problems of modern overpopulated orphanages and why exactly population has slowed in some areas why do you think that a couple will adopt a child rather than simply have one themselves? You have not presented any data to show that population decrease is due to infertility, therefore the premise that we need some other way of having children is flawed. In addition it would be far simpler to use surrogate humans, at least we know that works.

    You'd do well to flick through the wikipedia article and check the references there. The first references supports your idea but it's a nutty link to some ones free online paper (non-peer reviewed). Speaking as a biologist you would never get ethical permission to fertilise an animal with a human egg, that's why there are no studies on that. However there have been studies on interspecific pregnancy with other species, there are mixed results depending on the species. Biggest problems are immune response and interaction between host and foetus. A developing human would not survive the delivery of nutrition/cytokines/cells etc meant for a calf.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 5, 2017
  9. Jul 12, 2011 #8
    Oh yes I forgot to mention that. Reference no. 17 on the other wiki article about immune tolerance also links to the same page. It needs to be avoided; the quality is similar to that of a school homework essay.
     
  10. Jul 26, 2011 #9
    Well, physicians all around the world have ethical permission to put human embryo into a trash basket when performing an abortion, but they never get ethical permission to put the same embryo into an animal womb. This is irrational, isn't it?
     
  11. Jul 26, 2011 #10

    Ryan_m_b

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    Not at all. In the case of an embryo it is far from being a sentient being and thus nothing is lost and no pain is inflicted when it is destroyed (and it is not thrown in a trash can). Placing an embryo in another animal with the intent to try to bring it to term is a recipe for disaster. Most of the time nothing will happen but there's always a horrible possibility that you will get a malformed offspring.

    EDIT: But the ethics pales in comparison to the practical problems that have been outlined in this thread.
     
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