Human eggs fully grown in laboratory for the first time

This is the first time a human egg has been developed in a lab from its earliest stage to full maturity

This is the first time a human egg has been developed in a lab from its earliest stage to full maturity

It's a revolution and for the first time, human eggs have been developed outside the human body from their earliest stage to full maturity. Even if her mature eggs are preserved, reintroducing them poses a risk of reintroducing cancer too.

While the process has previously been achieved with mice, it has proved hard with human eggs.

In the journal "Molecular Human Reproduction", the researchers describe how they took ovarian tissue from 10 women in their late twenties and thirties and, over four steps involving different cocktails of nutrients, encouraged the eggs to develop from their earliest form to maturity.

The team at the University of Edinburgh removed egg cells from ovary tissue at the earliest stage of development, before growing them to the point at which they were ready to be fertilised.

The study was conducted by the Royal Edinburgh Infirmary, the New York Human Reproduction Center, and the Royal Children's Hospital in Edinburgh with the support of the UK Medical Research Council (MRC).

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

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.

British and USA scientists have developed eggs from an early stage to full maturity in a lab for the first time. And pre-puberty girls don't produce mature eggs that could be frozen.

Decades of work have finally shown that scientists can grow eggs to maturity outside of the ovary, under strict laboratory conditions such as controlled oxygen levels, hormones, proteins that mimic growth, and the substance in which eggs are cultivated.

'As the authors acknowledge, there is much more important research still to do, but this could pave the way for fertility preservation in women and girls with a wider variety of cancers than is possible using existing methods'.

Darren Griffin, a genetics professor at Kent University in the United Kingdom, said the work was "an impressive technical achievement". Here, they have, through meticulous experimentation, worked out how to complete the third and final stage.

"It's very exciting to obtain proof of principle that it's possible to reach this stage in human tissue".

He adds: "It will be a while until this is implemented in the clinic but, if and when it is, this will be seen as one of the seminal advances".

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