Published: Sat, February 10, 2018
Medical | By

Researchers grow human eggs in laboratory for the first time

Researchers grow human eggs in laboratory for the first time

The lab-grown human eggs start off life, so to speak, as immature egg cells that were removed from ovarian tissue at their earliest stage of development. Earlier it was done on mice.

They believe the development could offer new hope to some women who struggle to conceive, including cancer sufferers.

Egg cell maturation is the process in which human egg cells develop to a stage where they can be fertilised.

Researchers have now managed to turn immature human eggs into the fully developed version in the lab for the first time, but as of now, it's still unclear whether the mature eggs are normal and can actually combine with sperm to make an embryo.

Researchers at the University of Edinburgh and the Center for Human Reproduction in NY have successfully grown human eggs in a laboratory in a major scientific breakthrough. We are working to optimize the conditions that support the development of the egg and study their health.

"Still, this early data suggests that this may well be feasible in the future".

The research widens our understanding of the mechanisms of human egg development, also shedding light on to why this process can sometimes go wrong and lead to other problems with fertility.

But scientists have now been able to successfully grow eggs to maturity outside of ovary, after decades of work. Chemotherapy and radiotherapy risks making you sterile. But for young women and pre-pubescent teens who experience premature fertility loss due to things like cancer, this could provide a safer opportunity to have children compared to previously used methods.

Some cancer patients now have a piece of their ovary removed before treatment and re-implanted later.

Scientists will next evaluate the health of the eggs and whether they are viable for fertilisation. Abnormalities in the frozen samples, however, could be risky.

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

Mr Stuart Lavery, a consultant gynaecologist at Hammersmith Hospital, said: "This work represents a genuine step forward in our understanding".

It would be legal to fertilise one of the lab-made eggs to create an embryo for research purposes in the UK.

This monumental feat was achieved by scientists at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. They are now deciding on whether to apply for embryo authority, or collaborate with an already-licensed center to get to the subsequent level.

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