An scientific breakthrough could allow gay couples to have children without a female egg.
The study showed that sperm and skin cells, or any other kind of non-egg cell, might be all that is needed for conception.
Scientists working with mice, produced healthy offspring while bypassing the normal process of fertilising an egg cell with sperm – without cloning.
The team have shown embryos could be created from cells which carry all their chromosomes which means that, in theory, any cell in the human body could be fertilised by a sperm.
For example, gay men could have babies with each other, and a man could even fertilise his own cells to create babies containing a mixture of genes inherited from him and his parents.
Lead scientist Dr Tony Perry, a molecular embryologist from the University of Bath, said: “Our work challenges the dogma, held since early embryologists first observed mammalian eggs around 1827 and observed fertilisation 50 years later, that only an egg cell fertilised with a sperm cell can result in live mammalian birth.”
But he added that is was ‘speculative’ and there was still much more work to be done before it was considered feasible in humans.
A report in The Independent say the findings also suggest that women who are otherwise incapable of reproducing due to cancer drugs or other treatments can still have their own babies, using other cells of their bodies.
The study produced 30 mouse pups with a success rate of 24 percent.
At the moment such people have only one way to produce babies and that is by freezing their eggs before the treatment commences.
Embryologist Professor Robin Lovell-Badge, from The Francis Crick Institute in London, said: “I’m not surprised that the authors are excited about this. I think it is a very interesting paper, and a technical tour de force. And I am sure it will tell us something important about reprogramming at these early steps of development.”