SCIENTISTS hope to fertilise the first human egg cells grown in a lab from stem cells later this year, it emerged yesterday.
The move, if successful, would mean a potentially unlimited supply of human eggs could be produced.
The breakthrough could revolutionise fertility treatment and also ease conditions associated with the menopause.
Edinburgh University researchers are working with a team from Harvard Medical School to be the first to produce mature human eggs from stem cells isolated from ovarian tissue.
They will ask for a licence to try to fertilise the lab-grown egg cells to prove they are viable.
If any embryos were produced they would then undergo “robust” scientific and genetic testing to determine that they are normal.
Current methods mean only a small number of human egg cells are generated directly from the ovaries of women who have had hormonal stimulation.
Dr Evelyn Telfer, a reproductive biologist at Edinburgh University, said: “With every experiment you don’t know the outcome. Even if we get an egg fertilised we don’t know it will be normal.
“Any positive results could mean a breakthrough for fertility treatment.”
The team hope to do the tests at the IVF unit at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary this year.
Professor Jonathan Tilly, from Harvard Medical School believes the process could also reverse or delay the menopause, meaning women would be free from the health risks associated with later years.
He said: “There is a grander golden chalice here which is ageing itself. These cells may provide a way for us to tackle that tremendously important problem.
“It’s very clear that keeping the ovaries working has tremendous health benefits on the ageing female body.”
Article: 12th April www.dailyrecord.co.uk
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