Ova to you: Human eggs made from scratch
Grown in a lab for the first time
Human eggs have been grown from scratch in a lab in a “breakthrough” that promises hope for infertile women.
British scientists removed egg cells from ovary tissue at their earliest stage of development and grew them to the point at which they were ready for fertilisation.
Once developed, the pioneering technique should transform the ease with which women can undergo IVF by simply requiring a small tissue biopsy rather than traumatic rounds of hormone-triggered ovulation.It also promises to preserve the fertility of women undergoing aggressive cancer treatment, many of whom are currently left barren if they are unable to freeze their eggs. Scientists had previously developed mouse eggs to produce live offspring. However it has taken two decades to overcome the challenges presented by replicating the process on humans.IVF
In vitro fertilisation (IVF) is a process of fertilisation in which an egg is combined with sperm outside the body, in a glass (vitro). Once the egg is successfully fertilised, it is transferred back into the uterus in the hope of a successful pregnancy.Professor Evelyn Telfer, who led the research at Edinburgh University, said the successful study represented a “significant step forward”.
Her team will next seek to perfect the process before seeking legal permission from the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority to attempt to fertilise the lab-grown eggs.
“Being able to fully develop human eggs in the lab could widen the scope of available fertility treatments,” she said.
“We are now working on optimising the conditions that support egg development in this way and studying how healthy they are.”About 84% of couples conceive naturally within a year, according to the UK's NHS, but around one in seven have difficulty, affecting approximately 3.5 million people in the Britain.
Professor Daniel Brison, of the department of reproduction at the University of Manchester, said it was an exciting breakthrough.
“This could pave the way for fertility preservation in women and girls with a wider variety of cancers than is possible using existing methods.”
• The study, carried out by the Royal Infirmary Edinburgh, the Centre for Human Reproduction in New York and the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Edinburgh, was supported by the Medical Research Council
— © The Daily Telegraph