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Artificial Ovary Invented in US Medical School

Researchers at Brown University and Women & Infants Hospital have invented the first artificial human ovary and have already used the lab-grown organ to mature human eggs.

AnnA Rushton

This might sound scarily like science fiction, but it is here and could be an advance that provides a potentially powerful new means for conducting fertility research and could provide a means of providing infertility treatments for cancer patients.

The ovary not only provides a living laboratory for investigating fundamental questions about how healthy ovaries work, but also can act as a testbed for seeing how problems, such as exposure to toxins or other chemicals, can disrupt egg maturation and health.  Sandra Carson, professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University and director of the Division of Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility explained the importance of this breakthrough by describing how an ovary is composed of three main cell types, and that this is the first time that anyone has created a 3-D tissue structure with triple cell line.

This artificial ovary could be of vital importance in helping women to preserve their fertility when faced with undergoing cancer treatment in the future. A woman’s immature eggs could be harvested and frozen before the onset of chemotherapy or radiation and then matured outside the patient in the artificial ovary.

This is the real achievement of the artificial ovary in that it is able to take human egg cells, known as oocytes, and bring them to maturation in a matter of days.

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