By Linda Geddes | NewScientist
A baby boy has been born following a new fertility treatment that awakens dormant eggs in women who have stopped menstruating.
The treatment could help women who have left child-bearing too late, or have been left infertile after treatment for cancer. But some have raised concerns that the technique has been rushed to the clinic before being properly tested.
Women are born with millions of immature eggs, or follicles, but only around 400 mature to the point where an egg is released into the fallopian tubes and could be fertilised. But some of these follicles remain, even after a woman has stopped menstruating.
Now researchers have found a way to wake these dormant follicles and produce eggs that are capable of being fertilised. The first test of this technique has resulted in a baby boy, born in December 2012 in Japan.
Immature follicles are usually kept in a dormant state by the PTEN gene, which suppresses a signalling pathway involved in cell growth. Aaron Hsueh at Stanford University Medical School in California and his colleagues had previously showed that immature mouse follicles could be stimulated to mature if pieces of ovary were incubated with a molecule that stimulates the signalling pathway that PTEN inhibits.
Hsueh’s team also discovered that the physical act of cutting up the ovaries disrupts a second signalling pathway, called the Hippo pathway, which normally suppresses the growth of many of the body’s other organs as well.
Read the full article at: newscientist.com
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