For the first time researchers at the University of Edinburgh, and the Centre for Human Reproduction in New York, have managed to grow human eggs in a laboratory from the earliest stages in ovarian tissue all the way to full maturity. Ordinarily eggs must be brought to full maturity within the ovary, before being removed and harvested for fertility treatment.
This new process would allow for ovarian tissue to be harvested directly, and eggs matured later on in a laboratory. It is currently in its early stages, with much more work needed before it becomes widely available.
This technique is of particular importance in preserving the fertility of prepubescent girls undergoing cancer treatments, who do not have any mature eggs which can be harvested to be used later, and as a result can be left without the opportunity to bare children later on in life.
It would also benefit women undergoing chemotherapy and radiotherapy, who often delay treatment so as to undergo hormone injections in an effort to harvest enough mature eggs to freeze for later use.