Researchers at the Massachusetts General Hospital have managed to produce early-stage eggs using stem cells extracted from ovaries, a development that could be potentially huge for women struggling with fertility. According to a newly published paper, researchers successfully took cells from the ovaries of mice and used them to generate viable egg cells, then replicated the experiment with cells from human ovaries. This could, in effect, create the potential not only for much more advanced in-vitro fertilization treatments, but also for women to have children far past traditional child-bearing age.
Dr. Jonathan L. Tilly, who's heading up the research, wrote that his team's findings could lead to "a new field in human reproductive biology that was inconceivable less than ten years ago." Tilly has also made the claim that, contrary to popular belief, women's bodies don't stop developing new eggs after they're born, but actually have cells in their born marrow that that supply the ovaries with new eggs.
So, does this mean doctors can immediately spring into action to fulfill my dreams of putting off motherhood until the age of sixty? Or at least create new opportunities for women struggling to conceive? Not exactly. Unsurprisingly, the research is still in very early stages, and other experts caution that even if the experiment is successfully replicated in other settings (not a given), these findings would primarily be used for research in the foreseeable future, not the development of revolutionary fertility treatments.
Still, Tilly has high hopes, and told the press:
If we can guide the process correctly, I think it opens up a chance that sometime in the future, we might get to the point of actually having an unlimited source of human eggs. […] If we can get to the stage of generating functional human eggs outside the body, it would rewrite essentially human assisted reproduction.
Well, it's definitely an exciting prospect. And even if I'm not one step closer to my dream of postponing parenthood for as many decades as possible, I'm much closer to my other dream of living in a world that more closely resembles Jurassic Park.