Researchers Theorize about Manufacturing Human Eggs

LAUSANNE, Switzerland-Scientists have developed a theory to provide women with a plethora of viable eggs. Simply replace a cell here, take some chromosomes out there and voila! A human life might just be born.

The new technique created by Gianpiero Palmero, MD, professor of embryology at the Center for Reproductive Medicine and Infertility at Cornell University, was described at the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology in Switzerland this week.

From the beginning, Palmero has said the technique is just a theory and is in preliminary stages. He thinks it will take several years before researchers are able to successfully fertilize the manufactured egg and create life.

The technique stands to correct one of the last fertility problems for those unable to conceive. In 1978, a team of doctors developed in vitro fertilization to work around problems with the Fallopian tubes. In 1992, Palermo figured out how to inject sperm directly into the egg to work around the problem of sperm not reading the womb.

Now, the declining egg supply as women age has become an increased problem for fertility clinics. The technique is aimed to help women whose ovaries have been removed for cancer treatments, those who were born without ovaries, or those who reach menopause early in life. The researchers were quick to point out that the technique has not been developed to help women who have gone through menopause naturally become mothers. The researchers know that they are facing many ethical questions surrounding this discovery.

The way the technique works is by taking a cell from an infertile woman's body and putting it into an emptied donated egg. The cell contains the same DNA as the infertile woman, creating the potential of having a child with the same genetic material.

However, several roadblocks lie between the theory and the potential procedure. Each normal human cell contains two sets of each chromosome. One set is given by the mother during conception, the other from the father. The cell originally taken from the woman to create the egg would have two sets of chromosomes. When combined with the sperm, three sets of chromosomes would leave the child sick with a variety of genetic errors.

To correct this problem, scientists would have to shock the cell to split the pairs of chromosomes. The egg then expels the unwanted set of chromosomes, leaving it ready to become fertilized.

The theory has been practiced one, however the manufactured egg divided once and then collapsed after becoming fertilized.

Information from www.nytimes.com

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