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Is using stem cells to grow new eggs an effective alternative method of fertility treatment for infertile couples?

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Introduction

Is using stem cells to grow new eggs an effective alternative method of fertility treatment for infertile couples? Rebecca Jones Introduction Infertility rates are set to rise, currently one in seven couples are struggling to conceive within 12 months and this is predicted to rise to one in three in the future [1]. Infertility affects about 10% of all women (Figure 2) and can appear in one of the many forms. The most common forms are hormonal and are linked to ovulation; not ovulating regularly or at all. A common example of hormonal-dependent infertility is polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), a hormone imbalance interfering with normal ovulation, which reduces fertility. In situations where ovulation can be encouraged by hormones, like PCOS then there is a moderate chance of women will still be able to conceive naturally (45% to 50%.) [9]. However, not all women are able to encourage ovulation with hormones, these people have a few options: in vitro fertilisation (IVF), surrogacy, sperm and egg donation. Of these, IVF is the most common method used to solve infertility, but success rates are low (Table 1) in comparison to the chances of getting pregnant naturally when fertile (Figure 2) People who are unable to produce the necessary reproductive cells but still want to carry their own children are pushed toward using sperm and egg donation. ...read more.

Middle

[3] [7]. Since stem cells have the ability to grow in to many different kind of cells found within the body and are potentially capable of becoming an egg and therefore helping infertile couples. The cell that a stem cell becomes is dependent on the body or experimental conditions they are placed it [5]. In order to create an egg which can be used for fertilization, induced pluripotent stem cells can be converted to eggs. Whilst this is not yet been done in humans it has been done in mice, by a team of scientists including Katsuhiko Hayashi at the Kyoto University. In this work they took a section of mouse ovary (not necessarily from the intended biological mother) placed it in a petri dish with the IPS cells from the mice, and from this grew mouse eggs. These eggs were then fertilized in vitro and implanted into a mouse. The experiment was of relative success, 27.5% of all embryos implanted gave litters of healthy pups which were fertile themselves. For an experiment in the early stages of development, it gives good stead for research in the future. [7] Although the theory of trying to use stem cells to produce the reproductive cells is currently a well informed theory, the use of IPSC?s have already been used in humans [6], giving scientists further reason to believe the use of this fertility treatment could be viable in the future. ...read more.

Conclusion

Similarly if male is unable to produce sperm the couple will have to use a sperm donor, meaning the child is not biologically one of the parents. If both partners in the couple are not producing the necessary cells then it could mean the have to use egg and sperm donors, meaning it is not biologically related to either of them. Another solution is to take fertility drugs; if the woman is ovulating irregularly it can trigger egg production. It triggers it in a similar in which it happens naturally with your own body?s hormones. It is known as ovulation induction. They can be used along side other types of fertility treatment but the can be effective on their own. They are effective if your cycle is irregular, you aren?t producing any or few eggs or if your infertility is caused by failure of the pituitary gland. The advantages to this solution is that it is completely non-invasive, you simply have to take the drug as prescribed and you have increased chances of conceiving naturally. The issues with this form of treatment are: you could have a reaction to the type of drug suitable for your condition. Ovarian hyper-stimulation syndrome, this is where Cysts develop on the ovaries and fluid collects in the abdomen. It can be potentially fatal. ...read more.

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