TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – A joint study conducted in the United Kingdom, between American and British researchers has reported the successful growth of human eggs in a laboratory.
The researchers were able to develop early ovarian tissue, into a state that was ready for fertilization, by carefully controlling laboratory conditions for the research.
The research consisted of gathering ovarian tissue from 10 healthy pregnant women of similar age, who had chosen to undergo a caesarian section to give birth. CNN reports that out of 48 “early stage” samples collected, nine of them successfully matured to the final stages of development.
The results were published in an online journal Molecular Human Reproduction on Jan. 30, 2018, under the title “Metaphase II oocytes from human unilaminar follicles grown in a multi-step culture system.”
With the new methods cells could be extracted, and further matured into eggs outside of the human body, and then potentially re-implanted into a hopeful mother's body. One researcher involved with the study, Evelyn Tefler remarked that “When you have got the eggs, of course you would have no contaminating cells – hopefully it would be an embryo that you would be implanting back in.”
Although, the eggs still displayed some abnormalities compared to naturally occurring eggs, the research process is such that the research can now better understand what aspects of the growth process will positively or negatively affect cell growth.
The researchers are confident that with the new techniques, problems relating to human infertility can be better addressed, and women may eventually be able to prolong their fertility or possibly remedy some instances of infertility when it occurs.
Specifically, according to some commentators, the ability to salvage immature eggs that would be discarded after “in vitro fertilization,” may very soon be a reality, which means that prolonged use of fertility drugs could feasibly be curtailed.
According to the Guardian, the scientists say the next step for the research will be attempting to fertilize the eggs in the lab, once the eggs can safely be developed to a healthy state of maturity.
To read the original research paper, it is available at the journal of Molecular Human Reproduction.