Can Infertility be Treated with Stem Cells?

Researchers examine the potential of creating new eggs with stem cells.

Researchers examine the potential of creating new eggs with stem cells.

As investigators have previously hypothesized that infertility may be successfully treated by stem cells, a new study indicates this approach may not be possible.

The study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, examined the theory that the eggs from a female are the same ones she has had from birth. Some researchers believe, however, that stem cell research could eventually lead to the creation of new eggs.

Were this process realized, infertile females, including menopausal women, could be given new eggs.

Following the current study, researchers from the University of Gothenburg and Karolinska Institute found that the dream of treating infertility with stem cells is unlikely to be realized.

"Ever since 2004, the studies on stem cell research and infertility have been surrounded by hype,” Kui Liu, a researcher at the Department of Chemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of Gothenburg, said in a press release. “There has been a great amount of media interest in this, and the message has been that the treatment of infertility with stem cells is about to happen. However, many researchers, including my research group, have tried to replicate these studies and not succeeded. This creates uncertainty about whether it is at all possible to create new eggs with the help of stem cells.”

Recent studies have covered preclinical basic research and the transfer of the results from evaluations of mouse models to clinical techniques for the treatment of female infertility.

For the current study, researchers conducted experiments on mice that showed the only eggs female mice have are the same ones they have had since birth.

"This shows not only that the use of stem cell research in the clinical treatment of childlessness is unrealistic but also that clinics should focus on using the eggs that women have had since birth in treating infertility," Dr. Liu said.