BREAKING NEWS : Mitchell’s Sports bar reopen tonight just 2 days after health department shutdown Full Story

Human eggs grown in lab offer 'promising' insight into fertility

Scientists from the United States and the United Kingdom have revealed, in a first-of-its-kind study, that they were ...

Posted: Feb 10, 2018 11:55 AM
Updated: Feb 10, 2018 11:55 AM

Scientists from the United States and the United Kingdom have revealed, in a first-of-its-kind study, that they were able to grow human eggs in a lab. Their achievement could someday lead to new fertility treatments.

The eggs were developed from an early stage in ovarian tissue to a mature stage in which they could have been ready for fertilization, according to the study, published last week in the journal Molecular Human Reproduction.

Scientists reveal that they can grow a small number of human eggs in a lab

Lab-grown eggs could benefit fertility preservation practices in the future

However, the eggs appeared to have many abnormalities, said David Albertini, a co-author of the study and director of the Division of Laboratories at the Center for Human Reproduction in New York.

More research needs to be done before the technique behind these lab-grown eggs could be used to help women facing certain fertility concerns, such as young cancer patients whose fertility has been compromised by treatments, he said.

"It was pretty amazing that we got any eggs out of this at the end of the day, and what that tells us as scientists is that we're beginning to understand exactly what are the limitations," Albertini said.

"When we really examine these eggs, we could tell that there were a lot of things wrong with them, but by knowing what's wrong with them, then that allows us to go back and refine the technology.

"Hopefully, as this work continues, we will see some of these abnormalities disappear in terms of the quality of the eggs that we get," he said.

In general, infertility can be defined as not being able to get pregnant after a year or more of having unprotected sex, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

For a pregnancy, a woman's body must release an egg from her ovaries, and a man's sperm must fertilize the egg. The fertilized egg must go through a fallopian tube toward the woman's uterus and attach to the inside of the uterus.

About 12% of all women ages 15 to 44 in the US have difficulty getting pregnant or carrying a pregnancy to term, according to the CDC. In the UK, about one in seven couples may have difficulty conceiving, according to the National Health Service.

In developing countries, it's estimated that one in every four couples could be affected by infertility, according to the World Health Organization.

The WHO has called infertility a "global public health issue" and has calculated that more than 10% of women around the world are affected.

For the new study, tissue samples were collected from the ovaries of 10 women who were undergoing elective cesarean sections.

"All tissue came from women within a similar age range and at the end of pregnancy," the researchers wrote in the study.

Then, 48 early-stage eggs were isolated from the follicles of the ovarian tissue fragments. They were cultured in a lab, and nine reached the final stages of development, according to the study.

"This is a technological breakthrough for those of us who are interested in understanding how the ovary works and how it impacts a woman's fertility," Albertini said. "This is a research triumph that opens new doors for us to understand how a human egg develops."

"I think we're a good five to 10 years away from seeing this applied clinically," he added. "We have a lot of work to do to -- number one, improve the efficiency of this procedure, that is the in-vitro development of human eggs -- but we also have a lot of work to do in terms of improving the quality of the eggs that come out."

Until the new study, human eggs have been grown only from a relatively late stage of development, and mostly mouse eggs have been grown from early stages.

Last year, a separate research team cultivated two types of mouse stem cells in a Petri dish and watched an early-stage embryo grow, closely resembling a natural mouse embryo in its architecture, development process and ability to assemble. That artificial embryo, however, was unable to continue developing into a fetus.

The new study offers novel findings for humans, Albertini said.

The research appears to be "incredibly creative" and "forward-thinking" and suggests a potential way for women facing fertility concerns to use their immature eggs during certain fertility treatments, such as in vitro fertilization or IVF, said Dr. Aimee Eyvazzadeh, a San Francisco-based reproductive endocrinologist who was not involved in the new study.

"Right now, when a woman goes through IVF, immature eggs are discarded. The reason is that there is no scientific evidence published that has been replicated to show that germinal vesicles (or immature eggs) can be frozen and then thawed and then cultured to maturity. We can't even culture germinal vesicles now that are fresh. If we could, this would be a huge game-changer," Eyvazzadeh said.

"Ovarian tissue biopsy could replace what we now know as IVF," she said. "I really hope that this proof-of-concept study is replicated and that these scientists are wildly successful.

"Women no longer would have to take fertility drugs if this technology turned out to be a reliable, consistent and an effective way to mature eggs."

Dr. Ali Abbara, a senior clinical lecturer in endocrinology at Imperial College London and a member of the Society for Endocrinology, called the new research "exciting" and "promising" in a statement Friday.

"It suggests that we may be able to grow eggs from ovarian tissue, all the way from early stages to later development stages, ready for fertilization by sperm; and that this process could be achieved outside of the human body," said Abbara, who was not involved in the new study.

"However, the technology remains at an early stage, and much more work is needed to make sure that the technique is safe and optimised before we ascertain whether these eggs remain normal during the process, and can be fertilized to form embryos that could lead to healthy babies," he said. "Still, this early data suggests that this may well be feasible in the future."

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 359430

Reported Deaths: 6033
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion48740894
Lake30537484
Allen20668338
St. Joseph19177245
Elkhart18813246
Hamilton15457182
Vanderburgh10956137
Tippecanoe1012335
Porter932192
Johnson7732177
Hendricks7353165
Vigo6736106
Monroe604854
Madison5858125
Clark575986
Delaware5535108
LaPorte5291105
Kosciusko512948
Howard417680
Bartholomew380065
Warrick364374
Wayne362893
Floyd360279
Marshall343150
Grant326753
Cass323232
Hancock320663
Noble292450
Boone282056
Henry280741
Dubois271934
Jackson266638
Morgan259246
Dearborn252832
Gibson220333
Shelby216661
Knox212122
DeKalb210838
Lawrence205951
Clinton204025
Wabash195224
Adams192724
Miami191218
Daviess176747
Montgomery171429
Steuben168616
Jasper167717
Harrison167025
Ripley167022
Fayette165839
Whitley162417
LaGrange159534
Huntington153311
White151224
Putnam147831
Decatur145246
Wells145035
Randolph143724
Clay140426
Jefferson139719
Posey135722
Scott129725
Greene121054
Jay115516
Sullivan111418
Jennings106315
Starke104328
Spencer9678
Fulton96419
Fountain9588
Washington9019
Perry89221
Carroll81313
Franklin80228
Orange77028
Vermillion74911
Owen72210
Parke7056
Tipton68327
Blackford66116
Rush6488
Newton62513
Pike59321
Pulaski49720
Benton4483
Brown4226
Martin4006
Crawford3611
Union3032
Warren2893
Switzerland2825
Ohio2507
Unassigned0285

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 446849

Reported Deaths: 6753
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin57040674
Cuyahoga43640768
Hamilton34945379
Montgomery23828265
Butler17529154
Lucas17023438
Summit16486374
Stark11437231
Warren994381
Mahoning9092303
Lake840880
Lorain8213106
Clermont712156
Trumbull6752155
Delaware668142
Licking658677
Fairfield634265
Greene623977
Clark6038142
Allen569995
Medina565858
Wood5434113
Marion523067
Miami513168
Portage441676
Pickaway440350
Columbiana4131103
Richland409643
Tuscarawas405980
Wayne3838108
Mercer319859
Muskingum314512
Hancock284546
Ross278766
Darke275463
Ashtabula271957
Erie266670
Auglaize265841
Geauga257251
Putnam246455
Scioto240023
Union232213
Lawrence223341
Shelby222317
Athens22134
Seneca209621
Belmont198729
Madison191019
Sandusky189233
Huron185422
Preble180021
Jefferson172316
Defiance167733
Washington164129
Fulton159730
Knox159520
Crawford158620
Logan153821
Holmes153239
Ottawa143732
Ashland135133
Williams132912
Brown12675
Jackson125913
Clinton125619
Highland124418
Hardin122126
Champaign12158
Guernsey117115
Henry114629
Van Wert114118
Morrow11262
Fayette108117
Perry104513
Coshocton102815
Gallia95615
Pike9352
Adams91513
Wyandot88019
Hocking80718
Paulding78215
Noble69828
Carroll61412
Meigs49612
Monroe41022
Morgan37014
Harrison3053
Vinton2996
Unassigned00
Fort Wayne
Overcast
34° wxIcon
Hi: 49° Lo: 27°
Feels Like: 29°
Angola
Overcast
32° wxIcon
Hi: 46° Lo: 26°
Feels Like: 32°
Huntington
Overcast
35° wxIcon
Hi: 48° Lo: 27°
Feels Like: 28°
Decatur
Broken Clouds
36° wxIcon
Hi: 49° Lo: 28°
Feels Like: 32°
Van Wert
Broken Clouds
36° wxIcon
Hi: 47° Lo: 28°
Feels Like: 32°
Chilly Saturday
WFFT Radar
WFFT Temperatures
WFFT National

Community Events