Of human egg cells grown to maturity in the laboratory

News 9 February, 2018
  • Sashkin – Fotolia


    Friday, 9 February 2018 04:30

    Friday, 9 February 2018 04:30

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    British and american scientists have grown human egg in the laboratory up to full maturity, it is ready to be fertilized, a first which offers a breakthrough potential to preserve female fertility, according to research published on Friday.

    It is “the first time” that human egg cells are expanded in vitro in a laboratory, from their earliest stage up to full maturity, pointed out in a press release the university of Edinburgh (United Kingdom), which has led, with researchers from New York, the study published in the journal Molecular Human Reproduction.

    This advanced, step prior to any attempt at fertilization later, could have applications for preserving fertility in girls with cancer.

    The interest, for they will follow a treatment such as chemotherapy, would be to avoid the reimplantation of ovarian tissue previously removed, and thereby the risk of reintroducing the cancer.

    Instead, immature oocytes recovered from a piece of the ovary patients could be led to maturity in the laboratory. They would be stored to be fertilized later.

    For the study, the researchers have developed substances that are appropriate to the culture media in the technical language), in which the oocytes were cultivated to support each stage of their development.

    Scientists had already succeeded before this maturation in the laboratory with mouse eggs to produce an offspring alive. Others had heard of human egg cells at a stage of relatively late development.

    “The fact of being able to fully develop of the human egg in the laboratory could extend the scope of fertility treatments available and we are now working to optimize the conditions favoring their development. We also hope to know, subject to regulatory approval, if they can be fertilized,” explains professor Evelyn Telfer, from the university of Edinburgh, who led the research.

    Professor Azim Surani, from Cambridge University, for its part, considers with the Science Media Centre that “the results reported in the study are interesting”. But, he adds, “there’s still a lot of work before you conclude that they have the potential to be used in clinics”.

    This biologist also noted that “these eggs are smaller than normal”. It think it could be interesting to test their development in trying in vitro fertilization (IVF).

    Robin Lovell-Badge, of the Institute Francis Crick, is that the procedure is “really inefficient”, with, according to him, only nine cells reached the stage of mature eggs, on a high number, and not specified.

    For the Dr Channa Jayasena, from imperial College, London, he is of “an elegant work, demonstrating for the first time that the human egg can be grown to maturity in a lab.”

    He sees it as “an important breakthrough which could offer hope to infertile women”, but “it will take several years to translate that into therapy,” he warns.