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In a New Experiment, Researchers at Shanghai University Get Male Rats to Give Birth

In a New Experiment, Researchers at Shanghai University Get Male Rats to Give Birth

According to a recent research paper published in the biology preprint server bioRxiv.org, Chinese scientists built a rat model of pregnancy in a male parabiont and successfully delivered 10 cubs by Caesarean section from a male parabiont that will grow to adulthood.

In Shanghai, China, scientists from the Naval Medical University stitched the rats together in an experiment to see if male mammals could give birth.

The researchers connected a male and female rat by attaching their skin, sharing their blood, transplanted a uterus into the male, and implanted embryos into male and female rats.

Scientists then left the embryos to develop for 21.5 days before performing a Caesarean section.

The team performed "separation surgeries" on the rats after giving birth and discovered that all male animals survived three months after the operation.

Researchers experimented on 46 heterosexual rat pairs in total. They discovered that approximately one-third of the embryos normally developed in females and slightly more than 9% in males' transplanted uteri.

The researchers discovered that in slightly more than half of the 46 parabiotic pairs studied, neither the male nor the female became pregnant with normally developing embryos. In roughly one-third of the pairs, only the female produced normal embryos. Only six (13%) of the pairs had male and female rats carrying normally developing embryos.

No pair had normal embryo development in only the males, implying that the transplanted embryos could develop normally in the uteruses of male parabionts only when the female counterparts were pregnant and could supply the necessary blood-borne factors.

According to the researchers, the overall success rate was only 3.68 per cent, but 10 cubs were successfully delivered from male parabionts via Caesarean section, grew to adulthood, and had no long-term effects on their hearts, lungs, or liver.

The researchers were inspired by male seahorses and seadragons, which belong to the Syngnathidae family and are the only known species in which males carry offspring.

The researchers used inbred Lewis rats with a gestation period of 21 to 23 days, with groups of female rats chosen either for their uterus or to develop the initial embryo.

The team wrote in their research paper, "For the first time, a mammalian animal model of male pregnancy was constructed by us. Our research reveals the possibility of normal embryonic development in male mammalian animals, and it may have a profound impact on the research of reproductive biology."

However, PETA's Senior Science Policy Advisor, Emily McIvor, called the study "frankenscience" and "vile."

"Surgically joining two sensitive rats ㅡ who endured mutilation and weeks of prolonged suffering ㅡ is unethical and in the realm of Frankenscience," she told the Mail Online.

"Rats have nervous systems just like humans," she explained, adding that "they feel pain, fear, loneliness, and joy just like humans. Animals deserve to be respected and left in peace, not bred in laboratories, experimented on, and treated like disposable objects."

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