Stem cells from human ovaries used to generate egg cells

We used to tell women that their ovaries would contain, at birth, all of the eggs they will ever have. Turns out that may not be true.

The New York Times reports, “Researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital say they have extracted stem cells from human ovaries and made them generate egg cells.” The report, “if confirmed, might provide a new source of eggs for treating infertility, though scientists say it is far too early to tell if the work holds such promise.”

The AP reports that lead researcher Jonathan Tilly of Massachusetts General Hospital “collaborated with scientists at Japan’s Saitama Medical University, who were freezing ovaries donated for research.”

Bloomberg News (2/27, Flinn) reports that “stem cells from the ovaries were injected into human ovarian tissue that was then grafted under the skin of mice, which provided the blood supply that enabled growth.” In less than “two weeks, early stage human follicles with oocytes had formed.”

The Boston Globe reports, however, that “scientists not involved with the Mass. General research said such an approach – if it is even possible – sits far in the future and will require considerably more work.”

A number of “scientists said Tilly, who cofounded a company focused on developing novel infertility treatments, had not yet made a convincing case that the stem cells he discovered can yield viable eggs, a critical first step.”

The Wall Street Journal reports that the research, published in published in Nature Medicine, was funded by the National Institutes of Health, among others.

HealthDay reports that although “it was long believed that women were born with a lifetime supply of eggs, which was depleted by menopause,” an increasing “body of research,” such as this study, “suggests egg production may continue into adulthood.”

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