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Tissue engineered artificial ovary could help infertile women.

An "artificial human ovary" using a tissue engineering approach that researchers hope will one day allow scientists to mature human eggs in a laboratory has been created by a research team at Brown University in Providence, RI.. An artificial ovary, where immature eggs could be procured by the thousands and then matured at will in the laboratory, would open up huge possibilities for the one in 1,000 women who need it, said Stephan Krotz, lead author of an article appearing in the current issue of the Journal of Assisted Reproduction and Genetics. The Brown researchers' innovation involved using a honeycomb-shaped mold to support the immature egg. Human eggs are too large to be grown without some kind of support structure. "If you try to grow it by itself, in a dish, it basically collapses on itself," said Krotz. Researchers broke ovarian cells out of human tissue using enzymes, and poured them into a mold made of agar, a gelatinous substance usually derived from algai. The different types of cells then assembled themselves into a honeycomb shape.

The creation of an artificial ovary marks the first time researchers have successfully created a three-dimensional environment that contains the three main types of ovarian cells: theca cells, granulose cells, and the eggs or oocytes. Dr. Alan Cooperman, director of infertility at Mt. Sinai Medical Center in New York, predicted the clinical benefits are yeas and many scientific hurdles away, but said he's impressed by the research potential of the group's work, according to Technology Review. "The concept of creating an artificial three-dimensional environment and the fact that we can take out immature eggs and let them grow and mature into viable eggs, is really exciting," Cooperman said. (09/24/10)
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Publication:Transplant News
Date:Oct 1, 2010
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