New York: Researchers from the University of Tennessee have developed early stage human eggs have been developed from stem cells for the first time that could that it could lead to the natural menopause being delayed by up to 12 years.
The team led by Antonin Bukovsky took ovarian surface epithelium (OSE) cells from the outside of the ovaries of five women aged 39 to 52 and grew them in a lab for five to six days. Some were exposed to a growth-stimulating oestrogen medium called phenol red.
Cells cultured without phenol red differentiated into immature small cells of various different types while the exposed ones completed the first stage of the division needed to become mature human eggs, capable of being fertilised and developing into an embryo.
They went on to become mature human eggs capable of being fertilised and developing into an embryo. The team say the OSE cells can be easily harvested from the surface of the ovaries, using a laparoscope, a flexible telescope-like instrument.
They said the discovery could help those women with poor fertility or who are set to go through an early menopause, who lack follicles in their ovaries, to have a better chance of conceiving through IVF.
“Development of numerous mature oocytes (eggs) from adult ovarian stem cells in vitro (in the laboratory) offers new strategies for the egg preservation, IVF utilisation, and treatment of female infertility,” Bukovsky added.