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The Fertility Show


 

Lab-grown egg cells could be fertilised 'within the year' if licence is granted

16 April 2012

By Rosemary Paxman

Appeared in BioNews 652

The first human egg cells grown in the laboratory from stem cells (reported in BioNews 646) could be fertilised later this year, scientists report.

Researchers are now intending to seek permission from the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) to fertilise the eggs in order to test whether they are viable. Should such a study be successful, it would represent a breakthrough in fertility research and could open the door to greatly enhanced fertility for many women.

'We hope to apply for a research license to do the fertilisation of the in vitro-grown oocytes within the IVF unit at the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary', said Dr Evelyn Telfer, reproductive biologist at the University of Edinburgh.

The new technique, developed by researchers from Edinburgh University and Harvard Medical School in the USA grows human egg cells using stem cells from donated, frozen ovaries.

Should an HFEA licence be granted and the research go ahead, any fertilised eggs would not be transplanted into the womb, but studied for the legal limit of 14 days before being frozen or allowed to die.

Dr Telfer said that the study could take place later this year. Discussing the research, she said: 'If you can show you can get ovarian stem cells from the human ovary you then have the potential to do more for fertility preservation'.

However, some scientists are sceptical of the claims made in the original paper claiming human egg cells had been derived from ovarian stem cells. Writing in BioNews last month, Dr Robin Lovell-Badge, head of stem cell biology and developmental genetics at the MRC National Institute for Medical Research in London said that even if that study was accurate, 'the authors are a long way from testing the safety and efficiency' of the technique.

Dr Lovell-Badge added that even though research to test these parameters 'is possible with a licence, it would require a change in primary legislation to permit their use for reproductive purposes, which in itself would take several years'.

SOURCES & REFERENCES
Experts eye fertility breakthrough
Press Association | 08 April 2012
 
Telegraph | 07 April 2012
 
Metro | 07 April 2012
 
Independent | 09 April 2012
 
Scotsman | 08 April 2012
 

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Published by the Progress Educational Trust

CROSSING FRONTIERS

Moving the Boundaries of Human Reproduction

Public Conference
London
8 December 2017

Speakers include

Professor Azim Surani

Professor Magdalena Zernicka-Goetz

Professor Robin Lovell-Badge

Sally Cheshire

Professor Guido Pennings

Katherine Littler

Professor Allan Pacey

Dr Sue Avery

Professor Richard Anderson

Dr Elizabeth Garner

Dr Jacques Cohen

Dr Anna Smajdor

Dr Andy Greenfield

Vivienne Parry

Dr Helen O'Neill

Dr César Palacios-González

Philippa Taylor

Fiona Fox

Sarah Norcross


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