Breakthrough fertility research

New study brings hope to women left infertile by cancer

British scientists have led a breakthrough study, which could bring hope to millions of women left infertile by cancer treatment.

A research team from Edinburgh University has developed the new method, which enabled them to grow hundreds of eggs in a laboratory, the first time such a feat has been achieved.

The process works by removing a piece of ovary from the woman, which contains hundreds of immature eggs. These are then frozen, to be thawed at a later date and exposed to a chemical treatment to encourage growth. Once the eggs reach full growth, then they can be fertilised, and the embryo implanted in the womb.

The study has the potential to revolutionise fertility treatments due to the multitude of eggs that were successfully frozen, which amounts to many more than allowed by traditional IVF techniques. It also takes younger eggs, which were found to survive freezing more effectively than mature eggs.

Not only could the research prove beneficial to women left infertile by medical treatment, it could also be used for women who want to wait and have children in later life.

Dr Evelyn Telfer, leader of the study commented, ‘This is a significant step in developing immature eggs to maturity outside the body.’

‘Women who face infertility as a result of chemotherapy, or who want to put their biological clock on hold, could benefit from this system. However, there is a lot more research to be carried out before this technique could be safely applied within a clinical setting,’ Dr Telfer adds.

The research is not without its critics though. Many question the morality of the technique, in that it may encourage more women to delay having children until later life for the sake of their careers.

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