Scientists Create Human Eggs Outside the Body

Donor Eggs

Israeli researchers have created human eggs outside of the body by using cells from the amniotic sac that surrounds the baby inside the mother's womb.

The discovery may help infertile couples not have to rely on egg donation, because there would be the routine creation of eggs from donated amniotic membranes.

The scientists grew the eggs in the lab using tissue from the amniotic membrane, which is normally discarded after birth. The amniotic cells develop at the early stages of life. They possess the characteristics of stem cells and have the potential of joining any one of the cell groups that later develop into different tissues in the body. 

They found that when growing amniotic membrane cells in a growth medium also used for in vitro fertilization (IVF), the cells display specific signs of gene expression like those of the germ cells that develop into human eggs. In addition, their appearance is as large round cells that resemble eggs.

The eggs created in the lab are immature and at the stage of the germ cells found in the ovaries of girls before they reach puberty. The scientists are now using hormones to develop the cells into mature eggs that are capable of being fertilized by sperm.

The study was published in the journal Reproductive Biology and Endocrinology. Professor Eliezer Shalev with Technion Israel Institute of Technology, who led the research, told the media she  hopes it will soon be possible to grow as many eggs as needed using a regular supply of donated amniotic sacs.

February 4, 2013
Posted by Leigh Ann Woodruff

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