New IVF breakthrough

September 24, 2012

Researchers at the University of Gothenburg have discovered that a chemical can trigger the maturation of small eggs to healthy, mature eggs, a process that could give more women the chance of successful IVF treatment in the future. The results have been published in the revered journal PloS ONE.

Women and girls treated for cancer with and chemotherapy are often unable to have children as their eggs die as a result of the treatment.

Although it is now possible to freeze eggs and even embryos, this is not an option for girls who have yet to reach puberty. A better way of preserving their fertility is to freeze slices of ovarian tissue that contain small immature eggs, and subsequently mature these eggs so that they can be used in . Unfortunately there is, at present, no way of maturing small eggs in an artificial environment outside the body.

A research group led by professor Kui Liu at the University of Gothenburg has recently discovered that a chemical which inhibits the PTEN molecule can trigger the maturation of small eggs to form healthy, mature eggs.

Carrying out a study on mice, the researchers managed to produce five live young mice from eggs matured using this PTEN inhibitor to help the growth and .

The results have been published in and build on previous results published in Science, where the group showed that PTEN is a molecule that inhibits an egg's development.

"This discovery demonstrates that there is a realistic chance of being able to use PTEN inhibitors to activate small eggs in a ," says Kui Liu, professor at the University of Gothenburg's Department of Chemistry and Molecular Biology.

Professor Kui Liu has led the study and is optimistic about the new method. "This technique is extremely valuable for those women who have only small eggs in their and cannot be helped by IVF as things stand," says Kui Liu.

Kui Liu's group demonstrated in the study that a short treatment with the inhibitor can trigger the growth of small eggs, and that this treatment makes it possible to produce plenty of mature eggs.

The results also show that healthy, live young can be born from treated eggs used in IVF. Not only were the young mice born fertile, they also showed no signs or symptoms of chronic disease at the age of 15 months, which equates to 70 human years.

Kui Liu is a professor of and his group specialises in the study of molecular mechanisms that affect the development of female reproductive cells. His aim is to be able to use this method to help women.

"We hope to see this method being used clinically within five to ten years," says Kui Liu.

Explore further: Discovery of a molecule that initiates maturation of mammalian eggs can lead to more IVF pregnancies

Related Stories

Discovery of a molecule that initiates maturation of mammalian eggs can lead to more IVF pregnancies

March 5, 2012
Women who have eggs that cannot mature will not become pregnant, and they cannot be helped by in vitro fertilization (IVF). Now researchers at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, have identified a molecule called Cdk1 that ...

Study provides insight into why severely obese women have difficulty getting pregnant from IVF

September 11, 2012
One third of American women of childbearing age are battling obesity, a condition that affects their health and their chances of getting pregnant. Obese women often have poor reproductive outcomes, but the reasons why have ...

New method increases viability of frozen embryos, expands reproductive options

September 18, 2012
(Medical Xpress)—For some women facing fertility issues, a faster way of freezing and storing eggs is expanding their reproductive options.

Recommended for you

Hormone discovery marks breakthough in understanding fertility

December 12, 2017
Scientists at The University of Nottingham have shown, for the first time, that a naturally occurring hormone plays a vital part in regulating a woman's fertility, a discovery that could lead to better diagnosis and treatment ...

Study reveals Viagra to be 'ineffective' for fetal growth restriction

December 8, 2017
A University of Liverpool led international clinical trial has found an anti-impotence drug to be ineffective at improving outcomes for pregnancies complicated by fetal growth restriction.

Obese first-time mums more likely to have premature babies

December 4, 2017
Obese women are up to three times more likely to have a premature child during their first pregnancy, according to a study from University College Dublin.

Stillbirth is not just stillbirth—more information is needed

December 4, 2017
Forty two babies are stillborn in Australia every week, and 60 per cent of them are recorded as "unexplained".

First baby from a uterus transplant in the US born in Dallas

December 2, 2017
The first birth as a result of a womb transplant in the United States has occurred in Texas, a milestone for the U.S. but one achieved several years ago in Sweden.

Living in a 'war zone' linked to delivery of low birthweight babies

November 28, 2017
Mums-to-be living in war zones/areas of armed conflict are at heightened risk of giving birth to low birthweight babies, finds a review of the available evidence published in the online journal BMJ Global Health.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.