In vitro culture of oocytes for improved fertility and fertility preservation
Unique methods from Professor Evelyn Telfer’s group has allowed, for the first time, human oocytes to be matured in the laboratory. This technique could prove an invaluable tool for studying oogenesis, as well as clinically improving or preserving fertility.
- Oogenesis research
- Fertility preservation
- Fertility enhancement
- Full in vitro maturation
- In vitro proof of concept
- Patent pending: EP, US, CA, JP and AU
- Collaborative partner
Oogenesis cannot be easily studied in the laboratory at present, due to the intricate maturation process required. The ability to generate mature oocytes in the laboratory is an invaluable tool for reproductive research, and may find potential in clinical application for improving fertility treatment. Laboratory matured oocytes can also be produced from cryo-preserved ovarian tissue from young female cancer patients in support of fertility preservation.
Professor Telfer’s research has shown that it is possible to take immature ovarian cells and produce mature oocytes. Using a three-step culture process oocytes reached metaphase II of meiosis and successfully produced polar bodies. This is the first time this has been achieved in the laboratory.
This process provides various research opportunities. One example is the modelling of oogenesis to better understand its physiology, or to understand its pathophysiology in disease or under toxic assault. Another opportunity would be as a sustainable source of human oocytes for pharmacological and toxicological analysis.
Furthermore there are potential clinical applications such as fertility preservation. This is a significant concern, and the ability to develop and mature cryopreserved ovarian tissue could be an invaluable tool in preserving fertility decades into the future. The technology could also be applied to enhance current fertility, by increasing the number of mature, viable oocytes available for fertilisation.
- Valuable tool for studying oogenesis in vitro
- Sustainable source of mature human oocytes for pharmacology or toxicology
- Unique potential for fertility preservation with ovarian tissue
- Could boost current fertility by increasing mature oocyte population
MHR: Basic science of reproductive medicine, 2010. 16(9) 644–653
Reproduction, 2010. 139(6) 971-978
MHR: Basic science of reproductive medicine, 2018. 24(3) 135–142
BBC News, 2018: First human eggs grown in laboratory.