British scientists have made a unique discovery: female ovaries contain stem cells that can be used to grow an egg in the laboratory.
Previously, it was thought that the woman‘s ovaries contain a limited supply of eggs, the number of which gradually decreases to menopause. There is also a reduction in their quality characteristics. However, the scientists from Harvard have managed to refute this dogma. The researchers, led by Dr. Jonathan Tilly, director of the Center for Reproductive Biology at Massachusetts General Hospital, conducted an experiment. They took the stem cells, the carriers of a unique protein DDX4, from the young woman’s ovaries, developed them in laboratory conditions to the state of immature oocytes, which were later transplanted in mice. In the body of the rodents, the cells reached the state of formed eggs that the female body produces naturally.
Dr Allan Pacey, an expert on male fertility at the University of Sheffield, told the BBC that the discovery not only denied the already established medical opinion, it provided some interesting possibilities for the preservation of fertility for women undergoing treatment for cancer or suffering from infertility.