Stem Cells in Ovaries May Be Able to Grow Eggs, Study Finds

It’s kind of creepily sobering as a female when you learn that you are born with all the eggs you’ll ever have, and you realize each menstrual period means you’re one closer to being all out- but a new study may change that conventional wisdom.

The study, out of Massachusetts General Hospital and led by Jonathan Tilly, centers around stem cells harvested from patients undergoing sex change procedures. The patients, who were Japanese were in their twenties at the time of the surgeries and donated their ovaries for research. According to CBS News, the researchers located stem cells in the donated ovaries, then “injected those stem cells into pieces of human ovary, transplanting the tissue under the skin of mice, to provide the tissue with a nourishing blood supply.”

What happened next doesn’t necessarily mean researchers will adapt the results into a way to create new, usable eggs- but within two weeks, egg cells had formed from the stem cells. The research could, however, lead to new therapies for older or infertile women seeking to conceive. Tilly commented:

“Our current views of ovarian aging are incomplete. There’s much more to the story than simply the trickling away of a fixed pool of eggs.”

Dr. Avner Herschlag of the Center for Human Reproduction at Long Island Jewish urged caution in becoming excited about the results so soon:

“This is experimental… This is a beginning of perhaps something that could bring in new opportunities, but it’s going to be a long time in my estimation until clinically we’ll be able to actually have human eggs created from stem cells that make babies.”

Further research is expected into stem cells and egg growth.