Researchers grow human eggs in laboratory for the first time

09 February 2018

Researchers at the University of Edinburgh have grown human eggs for the first time in the laboratory.

According to the team, the technique could lead to new ways of preserving the fertility of children undergoing cancer treatment.

It is also seen as an opportunity to study how human eggs develop, which mostly remains a mystery to science.

According to experts, this is an exciting breakthrough but much work is needed before it could be used clinically.

Women are born with immature eggs in their ovaries, which fully develop only after puberty.

But scientists have now been able to successfully grow eggs to maturity outside of ovary, after decades of work.

It calls for careful control of laboratory conditions including oxygen levels, hormones, proteins that simulate growth and the medium in which the eggs are cultured.

But, according to experts, though the scientists have shown it is possible, the approach published in the journal Molecular Human Reproduction still needs to be refined as it is very inefficient with only 10 per cent of eggs completing their journey to maturity.

Further the eggs have not been fertilised and it is therefore not certain how viable they are.

According to experts, the latest development could not only aid the understanding of how human eggs develop, it will also allow a new approach to fertility preservation for women at risk of premature fertility loss such as those undergoing chemotherapy or radiotherapy.

According to experts the research could be especially relevant for girls who have not gone through puberty. Currently, in order to preserve their fertility ovarian tissue is taken before treatment and frozen for later implantation.

''[For young girls] that is the only option they have to preserve their fertility,'' said professor Evelyn Telfer, co-author of the research from the University of Edinburgh, The Guardian reported.

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