Breakthrough as human eggs developed in the lab for first time

Hopes growing after fertility treatment breakthrough

Hopes growing after fertility treatment breakthrough

This could pave the way for a new era of fertility treatments offering hope to women in danger of being left infertile from treatments such as chemotherapy.

"We are now working on optimising the conditions that support egg development in this way and studying how healthy they are".

"Being able to fully develop human eggs in the lab could widen the scope of available fertility treatments", said Professor Evelyn Telfer of the School of Biological Sciences, who led the research.

And Robin Lovell-Badge of The Francis Crick Institute said the procedure was "really quite inefficient", with only nine out of dozens of early-stage cells becoming mature eggs.

In a remarkable milestone, researchers have grown human eggs from their earliest stages to maturity in a laboratory for the very first time.

Experts removed fledgling egg cells from ovary tissue and grew them to the point where they were ready for fertilisation. Conventionally, cancer patients can have a piece of ovary removed before treatment, but reimplanting this tissue can risk reintroducing cancer. For some women, saving eggs is achievable by freezing them.

Azim Surani of the University of Cambridge pointed out that the eggs yielded by the research were smaller than normal, and "it might be of interest to test the developmental potential of these eggs".

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Lavery added the new technique could also prove useful for women who have passed through puberty. The University of Edinburgh academics will now look at whether they can be fertilised.

Scientists have grown human eggs in a laboratory in an experiment which heralds a world where women are no longer needed to make babies.

In vitro growth of eggs may also be used to treat conditions that prevent women from producing mature eggs.

Additionally, the researchers say insights into the development of human eggs at various stages provided by the study could help research into other infertility treatments.

"This latest breakthrough is valuable, [but] significant further research is now needed to confirm that these eggs are healthy and functioning as they should do", said Prof Helen Picton, an expert in reproduction and early development from the University of Leeds.

'We also hope to find out, subject to regulatory approval, whether they can be fertilised'.

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