What you need to know about "IVG" (in vitro generated gametes)

Dianne N. Irving
copyright March 20, 2014
Reproduced with Permission

I. Asexual reproduction using IVG:

"IVG", or in vitro generated gametes, is already a reality, can be accomplished by several different kinds of asexual reproductive techniques, starting with different kinds of cells, yet very little attention has been paid to it by the public. When used with human cells, IVG is a form of human genetic engineering, and a form of human cloning -- all accomplished before the use of these engineered experimental gametes are used in "fertilization"/conception. All the foreign genes involved in this engineering feat will also be passed down through the new genetically engineered embryo's descendants. It is already being touted as use in "infertility treatments", especially by the LGBT community (see Abstract below). The number of living human embryos destroyed during the research process is incalculable, and trying to figure out who one's biological mother or father is will prove impossible. [For a long list of similar asexual reproductive method references, see Irving, "Any Human Cell - iPS, Direct Programmed, Embryonic, Fetal or Adult - Can Be Genetically Engineered to Asexually Reproduce New Human Embryos for Purposes of Reproduction ('Infertility')" (November 2011), at: http://www.lifeissues.net/writers/irv/irv_194cellasexuallyreproduce1.html; based on 6 human asexual reproductive techniques listed in the recent UNESCO Report concerned with illegal human trafficking. In this article I give extensive scientific references and direct quotes for 3 of those 6 human asexual reproductive techniques, including the use of iPS cells to produce gametes that are then used in fertilization to produce new embryos, as well as iPS cells combined with a tetraploid coating, to produce new embryos.] See the scientific references for IVG on the scientific search engine PubMed copied below. Among other things, many of these asexual reproductive techniques are being applauded by transhumanists who aim to genetically advance the human species to a better species -- "posthumans". (See, e.g., speech by transhumanist James Hughes at the 2005 WTEC conference, at: http://www.wtec.org/ConvergingTechnologies/3/NBIC3_report.pdf, pp. 285-308.)

II. Some other kinds of asexual reproduction:

In case you aren't aware, human cloning has already been accomplished by means of cloning using the somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT) technique: http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2008/05/the-first-genet/. "MZ (identical) winning" is another type of human asexual reproductive technique, and considered by human molecular geneticists as the most perfect form of human cloning because both the nuclear and the mitochondria DNA of the "donor" cell are cloned. (See, e.g., Tom Strachand and Andrew P. Read, Human Molecular Genetics 2 (New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc, 1999), pp. 508-509.) Yet although MZ twinning is a form of human cloning, it has been used for decades in "infertility treatments" -- they just don't use the term "cloning". (But see "What is Cloning?", at: http://learn.genetics.utah.edu/content/tech/cloning/whatiscloning/ ). The "3-parent embryo" research (various types) currently being discussed by our FDA as well as in Great Britain also involves the asexual reproduction of human embryos by the cloning techniques called "mitochondria transfer", "pronuclear transfer", "spindle transfer", etc. In all of these cases, the "foreign" genes are not just found in the new genetically engineered human embryo, but also passed down through that embryo's FUTURE generations. Also, FYI, you might take a look at the literature at the new scientific field called "artificial embryology". Google search: "artificial embryology" "human": https://www.google.com/#q=%22artificial+embryology%22+%22human%22. Finally, here are dozens of "charts" on various types of artificial reproduction in humans: https://www.google.com/search?q=%22artificial+embryology%22+%22human%22&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ei=8y4qU9bNMYjB0AGKk4GQAQ&ved=0CEAQsAQ&biw=1043&bih=768. [See also Irving, #1 - Totipotency: Scientific References (September 23, 2013), at: http://www.lifeissues.net/writers/irv/irv_217totipotencyscientificreferences1.html; also, "Why Accurate Human Embryology Is Needed To Evaluate Current Trends In Research Involving Stem Cells, Genetic Engineering, Synthetic Biology and Nanotechnology" (November 20, 2012), at: http://www.lifeissues.net/writers/irv/irv_206accuratehumanembryology1.html].

III. PubMed search for IVG or "artificial gametes":

FYI, I have copied below scientific references for IVG research studies already published and listed in the scientific search engine PubMed. Abstracts of several of the studies are provided that give a general picture of the techniques and aims of using IVG, as well as a list at the end containing all the IVG studies currently listed on PubMed.

PubMed search for "artificial gametes":



Journal of Medical Ethics
J. Med Ethics 2014 Mar 7. doi: 10.1136/medethics-2013-101810.
PMID: 24608087 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]

Multiplex parenting: IVG and the generations to come.

Palacios-González C1, Harris J, Testa G.

Abstract: Recent breakthroughs in stem cell differentiation and reprogramming suggest that functional human gametes could soon be created in vitro. While the ethical debate on the uses of in vitro generated gametes (IVG) was originally constrained by the fact that they could be derived only from embryonic stem cell lines, the advent of somatic cell reprogramming, with the possibility to easily derive human induced pluripotent stem cells from any individual, affords now a major leap in the feasibility of IVG derivation and in the scope of their potential applications. In this paper we develop an ethical framework, rooted in recent scientific evidence, to support a robust experimental pipeline that could enable the first-in-human use of IVG. We then apply this framework to the following objectives: (1) a clarification of the genetic parenting options afforded by IVG, along with their ethical underpinnings; (2) a defence of the use of IVG to remedy infertility, broadening their scope to same-sex couples; (3) an assessment of the most far-reaching implications of IVG for multiplex parenting. These include, first, the liberation of parenting roles from the constraints of biological generations in vivo, allowing multiple individuals to engage in genetic parenting together, thus blurring the distinction between biological and social generations. Second, we discuss the conflation of IVG with sequencing technology and its implications for the possibility that prospective parents may choose among a hitherto unprecedented number of potential children. In view of these perspectives, we argue that, contrary to the exhausted paradigm according to which society lags behind science, IVG may represent instead a salient and most visible instance where biotechnological ingenuity could be used in pursuit of social experimentation.

KEYWORDS: artificial gametes, in vitro produced gametes, multiplex parenting, stem-cell derived gametes, synthetic gametes


Journal of Medical Ethics
J Med Ethics doi:10.1136/medethics-2013-101699
PMID: 24489106 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]

• Reproductive ethics
• Paper

The meaning of synthetic gametes for gay and lesbian people and bioethics too

1. Timothy F Murphy
1. Correspondence to Dr Timothy F Murphy, Department of Medical Education, University of Illinois College of Medicine at Chicago, m/c 591, 808 S. Wood St., Chicago, IL 60612-7309, USA; tmurphy@uic.edu
• Received 8 July 2013
• Revised 7 December 2013
• Accepted 15 January 2014
• Published Online First 31 January 2014

Abstract: Some commentators indirectly challenge the ethics of using synthetic gametes as a way for same-sex couples to have children with shared genetics. These commentators typically impose a moral burden of proof on same-sex couples they do not impose on opposite-sex couples in terms of their eligibility to have children. Other commentators directly raise objections to parenthood by same-sex couples on the grounds that it compromises the rights and/or welfare of children. Ironically, the prospect of synthetic gametes neutralises certain of these objections, insofar as they would ensure that children have parents whom they can know as their genetic parents, which outcome is not always possible when same-sex couples involve third parties as the source of gametes or embryos. Not all commentators in bioethics throw the use of synthetic gametes into doubt as far as same-sex couples are concerned, but even these commentators put parenting by gay men and lesbians at the conclusion of an argument rather than presupposing parental legitimacy from the outset. Synthetic gametes do raise questions of ethics in regard to parenthood for gay men and lesbians, but these are largely questions of access and equity, not questions of parental fitness and/or child welfare.


Med Health Care Philos. 2013 Dec 20. [Epub ahead of print]
PMID: 24357153
[PubMed - as supplied by publisher]

Artificial gametes: perspectives of geneticists, ethicists and representatives of potential users.

Cutas D1, Dondorp W, Swierstra T, Repping S, de Wert G.

Abstract: Several threads of research towards developing artificial gametes are ongoing in a number of research labs worldwide. The development of a technology that could generate gametes in vitro has significant potential for human reproduction, and raises a lot of interest, as evidenced by the frequent and extensive media coverage of research in this area. We have asked researchers involved in work with artificial gametes, ethicists, and representatives of potential user groups, how they envisioned the use of artificial gametes in human reproduction. In the course of three focus groups, the participants commented on the various aspects involved. The two recurring themes were the strength of the claim of becoming a parent genetically, and the importance of responsible communication of science. The participants concurred that (a) the desire or need to have genetic offspring of one's own does not warrant the investment of research resources into these technologies, and that (b) given the minefield in terms of moral controversy and sensitivity that characterises the issues involved, how information is communicated and handled is of great importance.


Health Care Anal. 2013 Nov 29. [Epub ahead of print]
PMID: 24293033
[PubMed - as supplied by publisher]

Will Artificial Gametes End Infertility?

Smajdor A1, Cutas D.

Abstract: In this paper we will look at the various ways in which infertility can be understood and at how need for reproductive therapies can be construed. We will do this against the background of research with artificial gametes (AGs). Having explored these questions we will attempt to establish the degree to which technologies such as AGs could expand the array of choices that people have to reproduce and/or become parents. Finally, we will examine whether and in what ways the most promising developments of such technologies are likely to bring about the "end of infertility".


Journal of Medical Ethics
J Med Ethics. 2013 Aug 21.
doi: 10.1136/medethics-2013-101646. [Epub ahead of print]
PMID: 23966423, [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]

Genetic generations: artificial gametes and the embryos produced with them.

Murphy TF.

Abstract: Certain interventions now permit the derivation of mammalian gametes from stem cells cultivated from either somatic cells or embryos. These gametes can be used in an indefinite cycle of conception in vitro, gamete derivation, conception in vitro, and so on, producing genetic generations that live only in vitro. One commentator has described this prospect for human beings as eugenics, insofar as it would allow for the selection and development of certain traits in human beings. This commentary not only offers this topic for discussion, it also wades into the ethical fray over the practice. Several possible lines of objection can be raised against this practice, but these accounts are by and large insufficient as an ethical analysis of this possible, future way of conceiving human children.

KEYWORDS: Embryonic Stem Cells, Gene Therapy/Transfer, Genethics, Genetic Selection, In Vitro Fertilization and Embryo Transfer


Reprod Biomed Online. 2008 Apr;16(4):539-44.
PMID: 18413063, [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

Development of artificial gametes.

Nagy ZP1, Kerkis I, Chang CC.

Abstract: Virtually all normal cells can reproduce themselves. The germ cells, however, can initiate reproduction of the entire organism. A special sequence of events, meiosis, is responsible for generating mature germ cells bearing a haploid genome. The basic features of meiosis, i.e. two cell divisions with no intervening DNA replication, resulting in a halving of the chromosome complement, are evident throughout evolution. The idea of generating an artificial gamete was recently put forward to provide an ultimate solution for the treatment of infertility. Currently, there are different strategies to create artificial gametes in vitro, such as converting somatic cells from mitotic division to meiotic division directly (somatic cell haploidization), or dedifferentiating somatic cells into embryonic stem (ES) cells and re-differentiating ES cells into gametes, or extracting adult stem cells and re-differentiating them into gametes.

All PubMed Results: 1 to 20 of 21