Lab accident opens door to new fertility treatment

After tinkering with the genetics of mice, lab researchers accidentally stumbled across a whole new approach to improving the fertility of women trying to conceive late in life or even after their ovaries have been removed.

After removing a gene from mice, investigators discovered that their immature eggs began to mature, a process that has to happen for females to generate the eggs needed to conceive. As women age, reports the New York Times, the maturation process gradually wanes until no new mature eggs are developed. Now two Stanford scientists--Aaron Hsueh and Jing Li--working with colleagues in Asia perfected a new approach that should work in humans, spurring immature eggs to develop by inhibiting the PTEN enzyme so that they can be easily fertilized with a protein fragment.

After successfully testing the concept in mice they believe the same approach can work in women who have had their ovaries removed. They plan to take immature eggs found in ovary tissue and determine if the same process allows them to conceive.

- here's the New York Times story