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First human eggs grown in laboratory (Interesting Science)

13/02/2018

Human eggs have been grown in a laboratory for the first time at the University of Edinburgh.

This new research brings us one step closer to the understanding of egg development in the female body and provides an alternative method of conception to children undergoing cancer treatments.

Women are born with immature eggs in their ovaries which fully develop after puberty. During this process, an egg must lose half of its genetic material to enable it to be later fertilised by sperm, otherwise there is too much DNA.

Scientists have begun to replicate this process through carefully controlled oxygen levels, hormones and proteins which stimulate growth in the lab.

However, the eggs are yet to be fertilised.

This research may bring hope to many cancer patients as chemotherapy and radiotherapy often result in decreased fertility or even sterility. Women who have already undergone puberty can freeze their eggs or even embryos.

However, younger children who are yet to reach puberty do not have this option. Instead, they must have their immature ovarian tissue removed to be frozen and can be re-implanted after treatment if they want to have children of their own in the future. However, if there are any abnormalities with the tissue then the doctors believe this procedure is too risky.

This new research therefore brings about a possibility of a alternative method to conception for children undergoing cancer treatments. Although more work needs to be done before this process could be used clinically, it is definitely a step in the right direction.  

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