Professor Jonathan Tilly made a discovery that changed how scientists thought about female reproduction. The beliefs that mammals were born with a set number of eggs was wrong. Now, Tilly has published another study showing that stem cells in the ovaries are a crucial part of the mammal fertility and scientists can harness them through special treatments.
It’s not a secret that males can produce sperm at any time. Female fish and birds can make new eggs as well, but for years scientists thought female mammals can’t-do this. However, Tilly proved this wrong in 2004 when he found that mice could produce new eggs. His discovery met disbelief at first, though.
The Core Of The Study
Tilly said he wasn’t discouraged and he finally confirmed his results on mammals. And then, Tilly found the same function in reproductive-age women. Other scientists were skeptical again. His new paper, published in August 2017, describes all his experiments and findings. The study proves that mice can create new eggs and female bodies can do it, too.
To prove this, Tilly isolated the oocyte-producing stem cells of mice. They wanted to track their journey to show that mice can make new eggs and offspring. To track the cells, the researchers made them express a certain cell and then reintroduced them back to the ovaries. They provide that new eggs had been formed and the baby mice were born.
In order to understand the importance of these cells, the scientists used a suicide gene technology to kill and resurrect cells. Tilly transitioned cells that would have formed new eggs in mice to observe their impact on ovaries.
Tilly said that mice can produce about 70 eggs every day. That’s quite a lot and the ovarian stem cells stop functioning only when mice age. When the eggs are depleted, the ovaries fail. This allows scientists to realize that ovaries fail not because the body stops producing new eggs, but because the body has aged.
The Final Word On Fertility
The final part of the study was an experiment to track the stem cells. Instead of removing the cells, they tracked these cells based on their self-making in order to avoid concerns about cells behaving unnaturally.
Tilly was able to prove that mice could make healthy cells and give birth to healthy babies and these babies could have their own babies, too. This discovery has lots of implications. It means that women struggling with fertility might give birth to healthy children.
IVF or in-vitro fertilization can cost up to $25,000 and the procedure is quite painful. The treatment results in a baby less than 50% of the time and for older women, the chances are much lower. Tilly has started developing technologies and a treatment called OvaScience. Thanks to this treatment, one woman gave birth to a healthy baby in 2015.
Regulating the stem cells will give scientists an ability to control the female biological clock. Tilly said delaying menopause would prevent delays in health associated with women aging.