April 2 - Israeli scientists predict it will one day be possible to produce human eggs from the cells lining the amniotic membrane, presenting new options for infertile women. The scientists have found immature cells in the amniotic sac, which they hope to turn into mature human egg cells in the laboratory. Matthew Stock has more.
===WARNING - THIS STORY CONTAINS GRAPHIC IMAGES=== The amniotic membrane which protects the baby in the womb is normally discarded after birth along with the placenta. But scientists in Israel believe it may hold the key to new treatments for infertility. They predict it will one day be possible to grow human eggs from the cells lining the amniotic sac, obviating the need for mature eggs from donors. Professor Eliezer Shalev of the Technion Israel Institute of Technology says the amniotic membrane can be used to grow immature egg cells. SOUNDBITE (English) PROFESSOR ELIEZER SHALEV, DEAN AT THE RAPPAPORT FACULTY OF MEDICINE OF THE TECNION-ISRAEL INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY AND CHAIRMAN OF OBSTETRICS, GYNECOLOGY AND REPRODUCTION, EMEK MEDICAL CENTER, SAYING: "The origin of these cells is coming from a very early stage in embryonic life... we thought that we can take these cells and try and induce them to become germ cells and then primary oocytes and at the end mature oocytes that will be able to fertilize and luckily use the oocytes for donations". Professor Shalev and his team are now trying to replicate the proteins and hormones released during menstruation which trigger the germ cells to become a viable egg cell. SOUNDBITE (English) PROFESSOR ELIEZER SHALEV, DEAN AT THE RAPPAPORT FACULTY OF MEDICINE OF THE TECNION-ISRAEL INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY AND CHAIRMAN OF OBSTETRICS, GYNECOLOGY AND REPRODUCTION, EMEK MEDICAL CENTER, SAYING: "I think that it will take several years to become a real clinical matter for infertility treatment". Shalev concedes that ethical issues may arise, but with donor eggs in short supply, he says continued research will eventually make the science practically viable for infertile women the world over.