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 Are Eggs and Sperm as Valuable as Embryos?

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PostSubject: Are Eggs and Sperm as Valuable as Embryos?   Sun Mar 09, 2008 12:33 pm

Many pro-life (pl'ers) people have been trying to make the point that a sperm and egg alone are vastly different in value (i.e. much less value) from the united sperm and egg, which they claim is a person, or a child.

Personally, I cannot see the huge difference in value from sperm and egg sitting next to each other, vs. sperm and egg touching each other. I think sperm and eggs are just as valuable as a united sperm and egg (zygote).

Many pl'ers claim that it is because sperm and eggs have only half the chromosomes needed for an embryo to develop, which in turn becomes a fetus, and so on. But what they don't know is that before a gamete (sperm or egg) gets half the number of chromosomes, each has the full number (46).

It is only through meiosis (which finishes only after fertilization in the egg), that the chromosome number gets halved in an egg.

This thread discusses the uses of an unfertilized eggs in making embryos and getting stem cells, which is exactly like using fertilized eggs for the same purpose:


Embryonic stem cells made from unfertilized eggs:


Quote :

No fertilization necessary
NOVA scienceNOW: Let's start with the basics. Just what is "parthenogenesis?"

Kiessling: Parthenogenesis is the term that's applied to an egg that activates spontaneously on its own. This is relatively common in women. Eggs activate and often form cysts or benign tumors in the ovary. Those activated eggs begin to divide, and they look like embryos at the early stages. They form blastocysts with stem cells inside.

NOVA scienceNOW: So you're looking at this as a way to produce stem cells for therapy? Give me an example of how it could work.

Kiessling: Take a young woman with Type 1 diabetes. She could donate her eggs. The eggs then could be activated artificially in the laboratory without being fertilized. Those eggs would develop to the blastocyst stage, stem cells would be derived, and those stem cells—her own stem cells—could be used to treat her Type 1 diabetes.

NOVA scienceNOW: Is this type of treatment just theoretical, or have there been animal studies?

Kiessling: It's interesting. The only stem cells that are being used right now to treat Parkinson's disease in monkeys is a line of stem cells that were developed from an unfertilized monkey egg—an egg that went through parthenogenesis. The line of stem cells that was developed from that monkey egg has proven to be as valuable and as robust as stem cells from leftover fertilized human eggs [from fertility clinics].

NOVA scienceNOW: It's surprising that parthenogenesis hasn't gotten more attention in the media.

Kiessling: It really hasn't been discussed. It's also surprising that parthenogenesis has not received much attention even from the research community.

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