Additionally, the researchers say insights into the development of human eggs at various stages provided by the study could help research into other infertility treatments. In addition to helping cancer patients preserve their fertility, he said it could deepen scientific understanding of the biology of the earliest stages of human life.
But many scientists claim it could be "years" before the techniques are safe and widely available, Sky News writes.
Scientists have previously matured human eggs from the late stage of development, however the fresh study is the first time a human egg has been developed in the laboratory from its earliest stage.
For the first time, scientists have grown human eggs to full maturity in a lab, in a move that could open the doors to new fertility treatments.
The eggs haven't been fertilized so it remains unclear how viable the process is, but it's the first time human eggs have reached this level of maturity where they can be fertilized with sperm outside the ovaries. Those eggs were then placed on a membrane with growth-supporting proteins and allowed to mature. Out of 87 immature eggs, only 9 developed fully. Of these, nine eggs were grown.
They note, however, that research in this area is still in its nascent stages and needs much more work before it can become a clinical reality.
Girls with childhood cancers can have their ovarian tissue frozen before they undergo treatment.
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The University of Edinburgh says: "Conventionally, cancer patients can have a piece of ovary removed before treatment, but re-implanting this tissue can risk reintroducing cancer". MHR: Basic science of reproductive medicine.
The technique has potential uses, but it still requires refinement.
'It could be an alternative to conventional IVF'. It is not clear how healthy the final eggs produced are as the speed of maturation in the lab was significantly faster than it would occur in the human body. They accomplished this feat; however, the eggs have yet to be fertilized.
The work is "an impressive technical achievement", Darren Griffin, a genetics professor at Kent University in the United Kingdom who did not take part in the work, tells Reuters.
The study was conducted by the Royal Edinburgh Infirmary, the New York Human Reproduction Center, and the Royal Children's Hospital in Edinburgh with the support of the UK Medical Research Council (MRC). Named Eggbert, the animal died young after suffering poor health and obesity.
But later experiments on mice went on to produce normal, healthy offspring.