Guys, SCIENCE IS SO CRAZY. Ok.
So you know how our bodies are all made out of cells?
Well this is how cells work (or something a tiny bit like this):
Although cells all have the same DNA in the nucleus they can take on different forms because they suss out their cellular environment and then, based on that sussing out, ‘read’ only the specific parts of the DNA that they think they need.
Some cells are super cool in that they haven’t decided what to be yet. Like little cellular millennials. They are called stem cells.
Stem cells can multiply indefinitely, unlike normal cells, who can only multiply a certain number of times. Which is why we all die eventually.
Stem cells are also the cells that babies start out as. The embryo stem cells basically multiply a lot and eventually start specialising to become different things like nostrils and bum cheeks.
Until recently, stem cells in humans only came from embryos made by little eggs and sperms.
But one day, scientists were like - “Hmm - regular cells decide what to be based on cellular environmental cues. So what if we artificially change the environment in regular cells and trick them into reading different parts of the DNA code. Then they might fall for the trick and become OTHER cells, like stem cells.”
So they did some experiments by inserting new proteins into skin cells.
And then they were like OH WE CAN! We can MAKE STEM CELLS. out of basic cells like skin cells! This research got a Nobel Prize, so, like, it’s a pretty big deal.
The more the scientists fiddled, the more different types of cells they could make from scratch (most recently, placenta cells and things). So far just in mice… but soon in humans?
Let’s think about the insane implications of this:
Firstly, any human cell with DNA can be used to make an embryo cell. That’s DNA from somebody of age, any sex, and not necessarily two people. And no - a ‘unibaby’ made from a ‘uniparent’ WON’T be a clone of that parents because of a thing called Meiosis - the way a cell divides to scramble its DNA when becoming an egg or sperm. Meiosis is the reason that your same mom can give your and your sister different DNA - more on that in a future post. The point here: UNIBABY.
Secondly - genetic editing technology (as I’ve touched on before), could potentially become much more easy and popular when combined with this new way to genetically manufacture baby cells, which could take the designer baby trend to a whole new level.
And thirdly - this is my favorite crazy part, if you get hold of somebody’s DNA, like a piece of their hair, you can make a baby with them. Which is honestly just opening up a whole world of future crazy. Imagine the DNA black market.
Anyway, I guess what I’m saying is: if you were ever considering donating some eggs or sperm for money - now is the time. Do it before your job is usurped by a skin cell… before skin cells usurp all the jobs!
PS Thanks to the amazing Alyce Miller for suggesting this cool post topic!