Researchers from Brown University just published their very exciting breakthrough in the Journal of Assisted Reproduction and Genetics.
Simply put……they engineered a 3D structure to mimic the environment in an ovary. They took cells normally present around an egg that play a role in nurturing the egg to maturity then took an egg, placed it in the 3D structure along with the nurturing cells and they watched the egg grow to maturity.
This research is exciting for the following reasons:
1. We haven’t found a way to mature eggs successfully outside of the human body. This is a technique called in vitro maturation. The artificial ovary may provide a means to do this successfully.
2. Women who are faced with fertility threatening conditions could have a portion of their ovaries removed to only have eggs matured in the artificial ovary.
3. The artificial ovary could help us study the effect of toxins on human eggs.
4. The artificial ovary could play a role in preserving fertility and remove the need for donor eggs for women with primary ovarian insufficiency.
Just my thoughts for now. This research is all very very new but exciting nonetheless.
Access to the study here: http://www.springerlink.com/content/9t612k868w3263g1/