Thursday, Dec. 09, 2010

Artificial Ovary

In more good news for those struggling with infertility, scientists reported success in creating an artificial ovary that could one day nurture immature human eggs outside the body. Researchers led by a team at Brown University managed to coax three primary ovary cells donated by patients into a 3-D structure resembling an ovary. In the lab, the cell types interacted with one another and functioned for all intents and purposes like a real ovary, even successfully maturing a human egg from its earliest stages in the follicle to a fully developed form.

Most immediately, the structure could help IVF technicians improve success rates. Currently when women donate eggs for a cycle of IVF, they provide a range of both mature and immature eggs; the less developed ones are less likely to be fertilized to become embryos. But by allowing technicians to mature these eggs in the lab, researchers might be able to help each IVF cycle become more efficient in leading to a pregnancy and eventual life birth. In addition, the artificial ovary could help women with ovarian disease, who are unable to produce mature eggs, take advantage of IVF to have children of their own.