This recent article in the Independent discusses the development of lab grown human eggs from stem cells and some of its implications. The most far reaching implication would seem to be the potential benefit to women and the ‘elimination’ of the menopause and the health issues related to it. It would also provide a potentially unlimited supply of human eggs which would reduce the need for harvesting eggs. This technological development is described as something that “will revolutionise fertility treatment”. I am not sure that this is accurate.
Undoubtedly the potential benefit tow the health of women, and the potential removal of ‘aging-effects’ will bring about a number of changes to current thinking. However the development of this technology is not exceptional, rather it is the logical progression of lab based fertility treatment. Technology relating to reproduction has consistently worked towards expanding the number of potential parents, the ways in which they can reproduce, and the ‘quality’ of the eggs to be brought to term. To me it seems that the development of lab grown eggs is worth noting but not to be unexpected as fertility technology has been pointing towards this for a long time due to the risks and difficulty of egg harvesting. In a similar manner that the development of lab grown organs are pursued to alleviate the organ shortage.
Perhaps I am understating the impact this development could have. Particularly if the benefit that could accrue to women are realised then this could be characterised as revolutionary. The development of this technology, however, is not revolutionary.