Lab-grown eggs could pave way towards new fertility treatments

Ebony Scott
February 10, 2018

United Kingdom researchers who created the first laboratory-grown human eggs say their achievement could lead to news ways to preserve the fertility of girls undergoing radiation or chemotherapy for cancer. We are working to optimize the conditions that support the development of the egg and study their health. Over the course of 22 days, they carefully brought these eggs to develop to the point where they could be fertilized, although they weren't for this particular study.

Step one: immature human eggs within ovarian tissue begin to develop in culture.

Now, scientists say they have demonstrated that they can take immature human eggs and grow them until they are ready to be fertilised.

Professor Daniel Brison, of the department of reproduction at the University of Manchester, said: "This is an exciting breakthrough which shows for the first time that complete development of human eggs in the laboratory is possible, more than 20 years after this was achieved in mice".

This exact balance that leads to maturity of the eggs within a females body had hitherto never been replicated in the laboratory.

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Professor Simon Fishel, from Beacon CARE Fertility, has said that further research is needed to establish whether eggs grown this way would be healthy and viable. Figuring out how to allow the eggs to fully mature in such a way for humans has proved to be much more hard, partially because our tissue is more complicated than mouse tissue, Telfer explained to theNew Scientist. This problem is especially prevalent in girls with cancer who have yet to hit puberty, and some choose to preserve a piece of ovarian tissue to later be placed back into the body to start making eggs. Using several different cocktails of nutrients, nine of 48 eggs grown from that tissue reached their full maturity.

This procedure could not only benefit young women who experience premature fertility loss, but mature women who seek to do in vitro fertilization. "We also hope to find out, subject to regulatory approval, whether they can be fertilized". As the egg matures, it loses half of the genetic material in a smaller cell called the polar body. "Even if what they report is true, there are a lot of things that should be improved".

"Being able to fully develop human eggs in the lab could widen the scope of available fertility treatments".

Ali Abbara, a senior clinical lecturer in endocrinology at Imperial College London who did not take part in the work, tells Reuters that the new method of maturing eggs is at an early stage.

Other reports by GizPress

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