Fully mature human eggs grown in lab, study reports

In a breakthrough that could improve fertility treatment, scientists in England have grown human eggs in a laboratory. Egg cells were removed from ovary tissue at their earliest stage of development and grown to the point at which they can be fertilized. This is the first time a human egg has been developed in the lab from its earliest stage to full maturity, the researchers claimed.

This could be especially helpful in preserving the fertility of girls with cancer who require potentially harmful medical treatment, such as chemotherapy, according to the researchers. The study, a collaboration among the Royal Infirmary Edinburgh, The Center for Human Reproduction in New York and the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Edinburgh, was published in Molecular Human Reproduction.

The study has also increased understanding of how human eggs develop, which could further research into other infertility treatments, the researchers said. “Being able to fully develop human eggs in the lab could widen the scope of available fertility treatments,” said the lead researcher, Professor Evelyn Telfer, of the School of Biological Sciences: “We are now working on optimizing the conditions that support egg development in this way and studying how healthy they are. We also hope to find out, subject to regulatory approval, whether they can be fertilized.”

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