February 16, 2019

In a first, human eggs completely grown in lab

09 February 2018, 03:26 | Randall Craig

Breakthrough as human eggs developed in the lab for first time

Hopes growing after fertility treatment breakthrough

Earlier, scientists have managed to develop mice ovules and obtain live descendants, as well as mature human ovules from a later stage of oocyte development. Conventionally, cancer patients can have a piece of ovary removed before treatment, but reimplanting this tissue can risk reintroducing cancer.

The egg cells were developed right from the earliest stages in ovarian tissue all the way to full maturity.

The work by researchers at the University of Edinburgh and the Center for Human Reproduction took ovarian tissue and matured it to the point at which it could be fertilized.

While the process has previously been achieved with mice, it has proved hard with human eggs.

The study, carried out by the University of Edinburgh in collaboration with the Royal Infirmary Edinburgh, The Center for Human Reproduction in NY and the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Edinburgh, is published in the journal Molecular Human Reproduction. The study reported on Friday in the journal "Molecular Human Reproduction" was the first time that the approach has been used on human eggs, the University of Edinburgh said in a statement. "We are now working on optimising the conditions that support egg development in this way and studying how healthy they are", said Evelyn Telfer, who co-led the work. This knowledge could boost understanding of infertility treatments and regenerative medicine.

Decades of work have finally shown that scientists can grow eggs to maturity outside of the ovary, under strict laboratory conditions such as controlled oxygen levels, hormones, proteins that mimic growth, and the substance in which eggs are cultivated. And pre-puberty girls don't produce mature eggs that could be frozen.

Also, egg quality has not been tested as none have been fertilised.

The breakthrough could not only provide women with new method of fertility preservation, but help us further understand the process of human egg development.

"This research is very much in its infancy, but its potential significance for women and girls hoping to protect their future fertility is huge". Here, they have, through meticulous experimentation, worked out how to complete the third and final stage.

He adds: "It will be a while until this is implemented in the clinic but, if and when it is, this will be seen as one of the seminal advances".

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