Ooctye producing stem cells put to the test

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Egg-producing stem cells from the ovaries of reproductive age women can be isolated and can produce normal egg cells. A research team from Vincent Center for Reproductive Biology at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) has followed up on their landmark 2004 paper that suggested female mammals continued to produce eggs well into adulthood.

“The primary objective of the current study was to prove that oocyte-producing stem cells do in fact exist in the ovaries of women during reproductive life, which we feel this study demonstrates very clearly,” said Jonathan Tilly, PhD, director of the Vincent Center for Reproductive Biology in the MGH Vincent Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and leader of the study. “The discovery of the oocyte precursor cells in adult human ovaries, couples 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.”

The 2004 study challenged the presumption that women are born with a finite number of eggs which are depleted throughout the reproductive years and are exhausted at menopause. Several studies from around the world have supported this hypothesis.

“In this paper we provide the three key pieces of evidence requested by those who have been skeptical of our previous work,” added Tilly. “We developed and extensively validated a cell-sorting protocol to reliably purify OSCs (oocyte-producing stem cells) from adult mammalian ovaries, proving once again that these very special cells exist. We tested the function of mouse oocytes produced by these OSCs and showed that they can be fertilized to produce healthy embryos. And we identified and characterized an equivalent population of oocyte-producing stem cells isolated from adult human ovaries.”

Source: MedicalNewsToday, Nature Medicine


 
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