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FERTILITY HOPE LIES IN STEM CELLS

Doctors have discovered a way to create eggs using stem cells, reports Richard Alleyne, Science correspondent in The Daily Telegraph and this stem cell treatment may “allow women to delay menopause and replenish the supply of fresh eggs in infertile women,” adds Steve Connor of The Independent.

Four years ago, US scientists discovered that it was possible to get stem cells from adult women’s ovaries and grow them into mature egg cells. Up until then, it had been widely believed that a woman was born with a finite lifetime store of about 2 million egg-producing follicles, falling to 400,000 by puberty and at the menopause too few eggs to permit fertility.

In the recent Chinese research, scientists took female germline stem cells from the ovaries of mice, grew them in a laboratory for 6 months and transplanted them into infertile mice. These mice went on to give birth to healthy offspring.

Stem cell treatment may “allow women to delay menopause and replenish the supply of fresh eggs in infertile women”


Dr Wu, leading the team of scientists explains in his findings published in Nature Cell Biology journal that the technique: “would work in humans because we share the same ‘female germline stem cells’. These cells can be used to extend female reproductive lifespan . . . or be used in the treatment of infertility.” Quoted in The Independent, Professor Robin Lovell-Badge, of the Medical Research Council’s National Institute for Medical Research, said that if the results are confirmed: “it could provide a means to restore fertility to women who have few eggs or who have had to undergo cancer treatments, by isolating these cells, expanding their numbers ... and keeping them frozen until needed for IVF.”

The NHS advises: “Further research is needed to confirm the study’s findings and to determine whether humans also have this type of cell in their ovaries after birth. Until then, it is not possible to say whether a similar technique could be used to treat human female infertility. It is certainly too early to suggest that an infertility ‘cure’ for women is on the way on the basis of this research.” But it’s a start . . . It is too early to suggest that an infertility ‘cure’ for women is on the way

Useful links:

BBC health section – www.bbc.co.uk/health/fertility/ Infertility

Network UK support network – www.infertilitynetworkuk.com/

Fertility Friends – www.fertilityfriends.co.uk
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