Researchers have found that it is possible for stem cells in adult women to produce human eggs in the laboratory, according to the BBC.
The study, published in the journal Nature Medicine, said further experiments on mice showed that eggs derived in such a manner can be fertilized, potentially opening the door for creating an unlimited supply of eggs in order to treat infertility.
Bloomberg reported that the research was conducted by a team led by Jonathan Tilly, the director of Massachusetts General Hospital’s Vincent Center for Reproductive Biology, which is affiliated with Harvard University.
The research builds on a discovery in 2004, in which Tilly found that ovarian stem cells in mice could create new eggs, said Bloomberg. The study’s findings challenge the belief that a woman’s ovaries can’t make any more eggs after menopause.
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The New York Times said the research used a cell-sorting machine to target a special protein that marks the surface of reproductive cells. Using those cells, the team was able to generate eggs that could potentially be fertilized and then produce embryos.
Dr. Tilly said, "The discovery of oocyte precursor cells in adult human ovaries, coupled with the fact that these cells share the same characteristic features of their mouse counterparts that produce fully functional eggs, opens the door for development of unprecedented technologies to overcome infertility in women and perhaps even delay the timing of ovarian failure."
Below is the video from Nature Medicine explaining more about the procedure: