Stem cells produce human eggs
Stem cells in women's ovaries may one day help us overcome infertility, researchers say.
Doctors in the United States say they believe an unlimited supply of eggs could one day be used to treat infertility, BBC website reported.
Researchers have found that stem cells taken from adult women can spontaneously produce new eggs in the laboratory. Experiments on mice have shown that these eggs can develop further. The study appears in the journal nature medicine. A British expert said the study would rewrite textbooks and offer "exciting possibilities" for treating infertility.
Conventional medical wisdom holds that a woman is born with all the eggs she will ever produce in her lifetime. The study's lead scientist, Dr. Jonathan tilly of Massachusetts general hospital in the United States, said their study contradicts that view. His team reported finding and isolating a type of stem cell that spontaneously continues to develop into an egg in a woman's ovary during her reproductive years. The way to find these particular cells is to look for a particular protein, DDX4, that is unique to the surface of stem cells. This feature allowed the researchers to target the right cells.
When they are cultured in a lab environment, these cells spontaneously produce immature eggs, called oocytes, which function and appearance very similar to the original oocytes in the human body. When the researchers exposed them to an ovary, the oocytes began to mature.
There are strict legal and ethical restrictions on the study of human eggs, so researchers often have to rely on mouse stem cells, them eggs, which are made from stem cells, can also be fertilised by sperm and eventually develop into embryos, research shows.
Stuart Lavery, a gynecologist and director of the ivf program at hammersmith hospital, called the finding "extremely important" and possibly "a landmark scientific advance." He told the BBC: "if this research is confirmed, it would overturn a major asymmetry in biology that women's egg Banks can be updated just like men's."
Even though we have repeated warnings that the cells are still "some way off" in terms of clinical use, ravi thinks they have "potential", at least for young women who are facing treatments such as chemotherapy.
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