13 April 2009
In what raises hopes of infertile women becoming mothers and allowing those healthy to put their motherhood on hold without worrying about menopause,scientists have discovered a way to create eggs in sterile ovaries.
A team at Jiao Tong University in Shanghai has used the technique which involves transplanting stem cells into the ovaries to produce new eggs in infertile women or women who’ve passed the usual age of conception.
And, when fertilised, the eggs can result in the birth of healthy young, according to the scientists.
“These cells can be used to extend female reproductive lifespan. The generation of new oocytes (eggs) could postpone normal or premature ovarian failure or be used in treatment of infertility,” team’s leader Dr Ji Wu was quoted by the British media as saying.
In their study on laboratory mice, the scientists isolated a small number of female germline stem cells (FGSCs) from the ovaries of adult rodents. The cells were grown in a lab for six months and given a green fluorescent jellyfish protein to act as a marker.
After they were transplanted into infertile mice, the stem cells developed into mature oocytes, or eggs, capable of being fertilised. Eventually the mice gave birth to offspring carrying the fluorescent protein gene.
According to the scientists, the system would work in humans as women share the same “female germline stem cells”.
“The technique has the potential to restore fertility after cancer treatment and treat infertility, including early menopause. In theory, stem cells could be taken from a woman’s ovaries, grown in the lab, then frozen until needed,” Wu said.
The findings have been published in the latest edition of the ‘Nature Cell Biology’ journal.