A human egg

A human egg

Infertile women may one day be given stem-cell injections to repopulate their ovaries with eggs.

Therapy hopes follow experiments in which sterilised mice produced eggs and gave birth to healthy young after having stem cells injected into their ovaries.

The procedure may lead to treatments that extend fertility beyond menopause and help younger women whose eggs have been damaged by cancer therapies or disease. 

The controversial research challenges the long-held belief that most female mammals are born with a fixed number of eggs and are unable to make more.

The procedure may lead to treatments that extend fertility beyond menopause and help younger women whose eggs have been damaged by cancer therapies or disease.

The study, published in the journal Nature Cell Biology, was received with caution. Some experts said other researchers needed to confirm the findings.

Scientists, led by Ji Wu of Shanghai Jiao Tong University in China, extracted what they believed to be stem cells from the ovaries of adult and five-day-old mice. They then injected 10,000 stem cells into both ovaries of sterilised mice.

Eighteen out of the 22 mice that received stem-cell transplants from newborn mice gave birth. A further 12 out of 15 injected with adult stem cells also gave birth.

"A lot more work is needed to understand what these new cells really are, and to verify the findings and the claims," said Robin Lovell-Badge, a stem-cell researcher at the National Institute For Medical Research in London.

Guardian News & Media

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