Engineering Eggs for IVF
Institute scientists hope to identify the optimal conditions for maturing eggs in the laboratory.
Ovaries are the female reproductive organs that produce eggs that are fertilized for pregnancy as well as secrete hormones important to bone and cardiovascular health. Several conditions can lead to loss of ovarian tissue and its functions, including premature ovarian failure. In addition, certain types of cancer that require the use of chemotherapy and radiation can injure the ovaries. These conditions can prevent women from having children and can disrupt the proper hormonal balance.
Institute scientists are working on two different projects to restore ovarian function:
Using a Woman’s Own Cells to Grow Eggs in the Laboratory: The goal of this project is to use a woman’s own ovarian cells to grow eggs in the laboratory that can be used in in vitro fertilization procedures. The first step is to identify immature cells in the ovaries that give rise to mature eggs. Institute scientists are currently looking for cell markers that would make it possible to identify and isolate these cells. Next, scientists would work to induce these cells to develop in the laboratory into mature eggs. If successful, this project could benefit women whose ovaries no longer produce eggs – because of age or treatments for cancer – but who want to become pregnant.
Cell-based Hormone Therapy: Read more about this project under Cell Therapies.