News / Health

Researchers Re-Create Eggs to Treat Infertility

For years Jim and Teresa Pica-LeRuo have been trying to have a child. They attempted several infertility regimens, including intrauterine insemination, and once became pregnant before complications caused her to lose the child, Sept. 16, 2005.
For years Jim and Teresa Pica-LeRuo have been trying to have a child. They attempted several infertility regimens, including intrauterine insemination, and once became pregnant before complications caused her to lose the child, Sept. 16, 2005.
Jessica Berman
Researchers working with laboratory rats have developed a technique that could someday help infertile women who lack usable eggs because of a hormone imbalance to conceive with new eggs created from their own ovaries.

Many women are unable to conceive because of a condition known as polycystic ovary syndrome, in which the ovaries fail to secrete enough hormones to stimulate egg production.  Injury to the ovaries caused by radiation or surgery also can interfere with a woman’s ability to produce enough viable eggs, or oocytes, to achieve pregnancy.

Anthony Atala is director of the Wake Forest Institute of Regenerative Medicine in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.  Atala says polycystic ovary disease is also commonly seen in older, pre-menopausal women. “What happens is as people get older, the fertility potential goes down and it goes down substantially.  In fact, after age 30 it drops off markedly.  And after age 40, it is very hard to get pregnant and it has to do with the egg quality that’s present in the ovaries,” he explained.

An estimated 10 percent of women struggle to become pregnant for at least a year.  After that time, they are considered to be infertile.

Atala and his research colleagues stimulated the production of immature eggs from rat ovary cells.  Atala says the cells are the equivalent of those in a 25-year-old woman.

They bathed the cells for one week in a petri dish filled with a nutrient-rich culture of chemical growth factors, and then placed the cells beneath a gel cover that allowed the cells to grow three-dimensionally instead of in a single layer.  After three weeks, scientists tested the immature eggs - which were protruding from clusters of ovarian cells -- for growth, hormone production and their ability to express genes.  

Atala says the young eggs produced hormones seen in normal, early-stage oocytes. "Our work is still in its very early stages," he said. "But it does really show that in fact cells be obtained and eggs can be developed.  And they can be matured at least up to a certain point.”

Atala says the next step is to try to coax viable eggs from human ovarian cells.  Atala envisions employing  in vitro fertilization techniques, which would use the father's sperm to artificially fertilize the newly created oocyte outside the womb.  The fertilized egg would then be returned to the mother's uterus for a normal gestation.

Atala presented the findings at the recent 2012 meeting of the American College of Surgeons' Clinical Congress.

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Comment Sorting
by: Hilyah from: QEkPgaFJqDg
October 24, 2012 2:09 PM
Thanks for sharnig. Your post is a useful contribution.

by: Asley from: usa
October 11, 2012 12:10 PM
My sister had a problem with infertility too.She wanted to have a child with her husband she just couldn't do it.
I felt so bad for her. I mean, I love her and I read online that there are natural solutions to it. So I took it upon myself and started digging.
I FINALLY found something that looked interesting. It's a product called "Pregnancy Miracle". Long story girlfriend actually ended up purchasing this product and lets just say this...
She has been successful with it and has a new born healthy baby! Amazing right? She loved the product. Anyway you can find it and the reviews at

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