Exciting research published online in Nature described how scientists have been able to partially reverse aging in mice. Why would a fertility expert be interested in this study? This is why:
Before treatment, aging male mice had smaller-than-normal testes and produced depleted amounts of sperm.
The researchers devised an estrogen-based drug that would switch on the animals’ dormant telomerase gene, known as TERT. The drug, in the form of a time-release pellet, was inserted under the skin of some mice.
A month later, the treated mice showed surprising signs of rejuvenation. Overall, their telomeres had lengthened and the levels of telomerase had increased. This woke up the dormant brain stem cells, producing new neurons. The spleen, testes and brain grew in size.
Is this the answer to ovarian aging for women? Will this type of gene therapy help women with early menopause get pregnant without using donor eggs? Could this kind of treatment rejuvenate aging ovaries the same was as it did aging testes in mice and maybe one day in humans? I find this research fascinating and hope it may one day revolutionize how we treat infertile couples.
Read more about the study here: http://www.nature.com/news/2010/101128/full/news.2010.635.html