Making Babies…In the Future!

by Irma Arkus

Love when Nature indulges in wearing the futorology hat? Well, look no further than Helen Pearson’s intriguing question of human procreation in the decades to come. Similar to that of great biologist and novelist Joan Slonczewski’s predictions, Davor Solter, developmental biologist at the Institute of Medical Biology (IMB) in Singapore predicts artificial wombs.

Production of germ lines (sperm and eggs) from pluripotent stem (iPS) cells has already been accomplished (for now, only in case of sperm) allowing for creation of embryos for people of all ages, or better yet, as Solter says: to “give children to those who can’t have them and remove children from those who don’t want them.” Awww, the joys of the great game of life.

Alan Trounson, IVF pioneer and director of the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine in San Francisco on the other hand, touts extension of the fertility period – something that only recently occured on the science news radars, as apparently, there is no reason for women to be infertile after certain age (or at least, we still can’t think of one). Also, he proposes genetic engineering, an insertion of “genetic casettes” meant to correct genetic abnormalities, such as Huntington’s.

Susannah Baruch, director of reproductive genetics at the Genetics and Public Policy Center at Johns Hopkins University in Washington DC, has a far more conservative view of the future pondering whether “designer babies” will be feasible. Baruch, don’t doubt – I want one. And if I want one, everybody else does too. I’m a trendsetter, you see.

Miodrag Stojkovic, stem-cell biologist at the Prince Philip Centre of Investigation in Valencia, Spain explains (I kid you not): “humans are getting more and more lazy when it comes to reproduction. Male fertility is declining and parents are deciding to have their first child at 40.” My first inkling is to assume that Stojkovic visited the local dating pool – lazy and poor at communication, I might add! But then there is the whole “in order to be a viable member of economy you must finish school, make millions of dullars…and then….only then….maybe you’ll have babies too” – I think he may be right. He too proposes uses of artificial wombs, which, apparently as research goes, is kept hush hush.

I encourage you to read through the article, and think of babies…of the future. And do tell us what the choice of future procreation is for you?