'Fully' lab-grown human eggs may lead to new fertility treatments

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Additionally, the researchers say insights into the development of human eggs at various stages provided by the study could help research into other infertility treatments.

The research could be particularly 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. "We also hope to find out, subject to regulatory approval, whether they can be fertilized".

But the approach has drawbacks. But re-implanting this tissue comes with a caveat: "The big worry, and the big risk, is can you put cancer cells back", Stuart Lavery, a gynecologist at Hammersmith Hospital in London who was not involved in the new study, tells Davis.

Researchers still have much more work to do before this procedure could be used in practice.

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Experts removed fledgling egg cells from ovary tissue and grew them to the point where they were ready for fertilisation. Using several different cocktails of nutrients, nine of 48 eggs grown from that tissue reached their full maturity. Instead of taking a limited number of eggs from a patient that could possibly fail to result in a pregnancy, the ovarian tissue could possibly yield hundreds to thousands of viable eggs with this new method. Among those follicles, 87 survived the initial growth stage and were able to be dissected for further culture, according to the findings published January 30th in the journal Molecular Human Reproduction. Right now, the process would be illegal without receiving a license from the United Kingdom's Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority. In adults with cancer, freezing mature eggs and sperm is an option available before embarking on cancer treatment to preserve them for future use; however, this is not possible in childhood cancer as the eggs are not mature. "Even if what they report is true, there are a lot of things that should be improved".

The applications of these lag-grown human eggs include women who have undergone chemotherapy, which has the potential to damage eggs beyond fix. In the third step the cells developed over a nutrient rich membrane and they matured fully in the fourth step.

Commenting on the research in a statement, Professor Daniel Brison, scientific director of the Department of Reproductive Medicine at the University of Manchester, says: "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".