Scientists in Japan are reporting that a new technique to separate sperm into X and Y chromosomes could enable fertility patients in the future to choose the sex of their children
The researchers at Hiroshima University say they made the discovery when separating mouse sperm.
It involves them separating the sperm by looking for the X chromosomes for female and male chromosome (Y) to decipher the sex when used to fertilise an egg.
According to the Guardian newspaper, there are currently methods that can be used to determine the sex of the embryo, such as the size of the X and Y chromosomes but these procedures are deemed expensive.
This latest study looks at the movement of the sperm, which the research team state is a cheaper and simpler method of selection
The researchers said the discovery was made as part of a project to unpick and understand the differences between sperm carrying an X chromosome from those carrying a Y chromosome.
Co-author of the research, Masayukai Shimada, said: “This is the first study to scientifically show the functional difference, ie the fertilisation ability between X-Sperm and Y-Sperm.”
Dr Shimada said the process may be applicable to humans if certain receptors discovered in tests were found to be present in human sperm and acknowledged the ethical concerns.
It is currently illegal in the UK for embryos to be selected based on the sex unless it is for medical reasons. In the US parents using IVF can select the sex of their child, a technique that is widely seen across the globe as controversial.
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