Evelyn Telfer of the University of Edinburgh and colleagues have developed a method to mature eggs outside of the ovary. This method avoids the need to expose a woman's body to powerful ovary-stimulating hormones.
Telfer said the new technique had several advantages over standard practices. It took just 10 days for an egg to mature using the new method, while it might take several months for an egg to mature inside the ovary, and one piece of tissue can provide many dozen eggs, rather than the 10 or so harvested during IVF. In addition, the technique would avoid the need for a woman to take hormone injections, which are needed in standard IVF to stimulate her ovaries to over-produce eggs.
The ability to grow large numbers of eggs creates the possibility of a much bigger benefit: The ability to do embryo selection over a much larger set of embryos. When DNA testing becomes cheap and revealing the ability to select among dozens of embryos for implantation will spark a huge acceleration in the rate of evolution of humanity (or of various post-humanities that will emerge). In 30 years (assuming the robots don't take over) the average baby getting born among the middle and upper classes of the more developed countries will be smarter, healthier, and better looking due to widely practiced embryo selection guided by DNA testing results.
The scientists from Edinburgh University have shown that immature eggs can be frozen, grown and matured in the lab.
The process could lead to women having pieces of ovary containing the immature eggs removed and stored. Much later on, they could be thawed, fertilised and finally implanted into the womb.
Telfer thinks this method is still 5 to 10 years away from being usable in humans.
I can see this method increasing the supply of donor eggs. More women will be willing to sell their eggs when they can do it without undergoing treatment with risky ovary stimulation drugs. The ability to freeze the ovarian tissue will allow buyers to choose among a larger set of women who had their ovarian tissue frozen over many years.
The use of this method might be short-lived as techniques to turn adult skin tissue into eggs will eventually eliminate the need to start with ovarian tissue in the first place.
|Share |||Randall Parker, 2008 April 29 10:35 PM Biotech Reproduction|