In a first, human eggs completely grown in lab

Hopes growing after fertility treatment breakthrough

Hopes growing after fertility treatment breakthrough

"This study demonstrates that there is much laboratory research to be undertaken before we can be encouraged to believe that we will achieve healthy normal eggs for clinical purposes in vitro developed follicles derived from human ovarian cortical tissue", he said today. In addition to helping cancer patients preserve their fertility, he said it could deepen scientific understanding of the biology of the earliest stages of human life.

According to experts the research could be especially relevant for girls who have not gone through puberty.

In the study, reproductive biologist Evelyn Telfer of the University of Edinburgh and colleagues collected ovarian tissue samples from 10 women who were having elective caesarian sections. The tissue is then put back during adulthood if the patient wants to bear children.

However, this approach still needs plenty of further work and refinement before it can be used. Experts said that much more work was needed to ensure the process was safe for humans.

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Evelyn Telfer, Professor of Reproductive Biology at Edinburgh University, told STV News: "What we have achieved is the ability to take the most immature stage of human egg from ovarian tissue and get it to grow outside of the body, to the point where it is mature and it is nearly at the stage where you can potentially fertilise it".

A fully mature lab-grown egg. Step two: eggs more than doubled in size.

But the latest study saw immature cells placed in a liquid culture in one of the university's laboratories before being transferred to a nutrient-rich membrane, allowing them to reach full growth.

Although various teams have achieved different stages of the process before, the new work is the first time researchers have taken the same human eggs all the way from their earliest stages to the point at which they would be released from the ovaries.

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The technique has potential uses, but it still requires refinement. Prof Telfer explained that a lot of improvement in the steps is necessary before they can ideal this technique. "With this [new] procedure, you could potentially get thousands or hundreds of eggs". Even the early stages of this work could reveal key steps in human egg development.

"We are now working on optimising the conditions that support egg development in this way and studying how healthy they are".

After decades of research, scientists can now grow eggs to maturity outside of the ovary, the report said. However, the team hasn't yet received regulatory approval for fertilization, Telfer explained in a statement.

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