Lab-grown egg cells would change fertility

April 12, 2012 at 12:53 AM   |   Comments

EDINBURGH, Scotland, April 12 (UPI) -- Scottish researchers say they are ready to ask for a license to fertilize human eggs that will generate an unlimited supply grown from stem cells.

Evelyn Telfer, a reproductive biologist at Edinburgh University, said she has informally approached the Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority about submitting a formal license application within the next few weeks, The Independent reported exclusively.

"We hope to apply for a research license to do the fertilization of the in vitro grown oocytes within the invitro fertilization unit at the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary," Telfer told British newspaper. "Could the fertilization take place this year? Yes, absolutely."

Generating an unlimited supply of human eggs -- and the prospect of reversing menopause -- was possible by a series of breakthroughs led by Professor Jonathan Tilly of Harvard, Telfer said.

In 2004, Tilly suggested there were active stem cells in the ovaries of mice capable of replenishing eggs throughout life.

Doctors had previously understood that women were born with their full complement of egg cells, which they gradually lose until they run out when they reach the menopause.

"This age-old belief that females are given a fixed 'bank account' of eggs at birth was incorrect," Tilly said. "In fact, ovaries in adulthood are probably more closely matched to testes in adulthood in their capacity to make new germ cells, which are the special cells that give rise to sperm and eggs."

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