Fertility Hope As Study Shows Eggs Survive in Older Ovaries

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Fertility Treatment in Old Age

In research that could have broad implications for women's fertility treatments, scientists have found that despite their age, female mice have a renewable egg supply in their ovaries.

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The discovery, by Professor Jock Findlay from Prince Henry's Institute and Associate Professor Jeff Kerr from Monash's Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology, has sparked controversy among biologists and challenged the theory, held for more than 50 years, that female mammals are born with a finite number of oocytes (eggs).

Two years ago, international researchers speculated that mice could continue to produce eggs throughout puberty and adulthood. Although their speculation caused debate throughout the scientific community, the scientists could not produce evidence to confirm their idea. However, Professor Findlay and Dr Kerr's research gives support to the theory. Their findings have been published in the July issue of Reproduction.

In the mammalian ovary, reproductive cells called oocytes (eggs) develop within ovarian follicles. In humans, the eggs are believed to die off from late in foetal life, after birth and into adult life. When egg numbers decline towards zero females can no longer reproduce

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