A Possible Step Toward Setting the Biological Clock
Chinese Report Ability to Grow New Eggs in Female Mice
By Rob Stein
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, April 13, 2009; Page A03
Scientists have produced strong new evidence challenging one of the most fundamental assumptions in biology: that female mammals, including women, are born with all the eggs they will ever have.
In a provocative set of experiments involving mice, Chinese researchers have shown for the first time that an adult mammal can harbor primitive cells in her ovaries that can become new eggs and produce healthy offspring, they reported yesterday.
While much more research is needed to confirm and explore the findings, the work raises the tantalizing possibility that it could someday lead to new ways to fight a woman’s biological clock, perhaps by stockpiling her egg-producing cells or by stimulating them to make eggs again.
The findings could also help speed stem cell research by providing scientists with a new source of eggs, which are crucial for producing embryonic stem cell lines tailored to individual patients and diseases but are difficult to obtain.
“This is a very big deal,” said Roger G. Gosden, director of reproductive medicine at Cornell Weill Medical Center in New York, who was not involved in the research, published online by the journal Nature Cell Biology. “It is quite dramatic.”