Sex selection fears over sperm breakthrough

Sperm can be separated to allow gender selection, a team of Japanese scientists have shown for the first time.

They discovered sperm bearing the X chromosome, which generates female offspring, carries molecules which when activated slow its movement.

When a chemical to trigger those receptors is added, male Y chromosomes power ahead, separating themselves from the slower Xs.

Mice sperm treated with the chemical produced litters that were 90pc male in the tests at Hiroshima University.

The scientists, who have applied for a patent, believe the method could be used to present farmers with female dairy cattle or male beef cattle.

Dr Masayuki Shimada, a specialist in reproductive biology, said: “I think this technique would be available in human IVF. We have to discuss the ethics issue before this technique is adapted.”

Experts say the technique could have major benefits for animal welfare but fear the technique could be used for sex selection of humans.

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