Monday, April 13, 2009

Tick Tock...Not?

I want to shed a little "lyte" on procreation.  Chinese researchers have found a way to grow eggs from adult ovarian stem cells.  "Wow," you say, "what does that mean?"  It means that proverbial biological clock may have a snooze button.

Biologists have always held to one truth, women are born with all the eggs that they will ever have.  In fact, we have the most eggs in our ovaries while we are in the uterus, and we start shedding them through out our lives.  Most fertility specialists have put the tipping point for women's fertility at 35 years of age.  After that, our eggs are too few and of too poor quality for viable success in fertility treatments.

But wait a minute, what about all those post 40's moms you see in People?  Some use their own eggs, but most are using surrogate eggs.  (A profitable cottage business for fertile college students with high pain thresholds and looking for some extra cash !) 

In experiments using mice, Chinese researchers were able to find and tag female "germline" cells, which could possibly become eggs.  They tagged them with a glow-in-the dark dye and injected them into other mice that could not become pregnant due to chemotherapy.  All of the mice produced eggs.  This was proven when some of the mice were killed and autopsied, and the eggs produced from the tagged cells glowed.  The remaining mice got pregnant, gave birth to healthy, normal offspring.  These offspring, if female, had eggs that glowed as well.

Now, mice are not people.  As one researcher put it, "Except at Disney World, humans are not large mice."  But this is a significant breakthrough for fertility.  If this procedure works for us, women's reproductive options would broaden considerably.

Women who are rendered infertile due to cancer treatments could go on to have children.  Women who for some reason have defective eggs could possibly grow better ones.  Women who want to postpone motherhood would no longer be working against that over 35 deadline.

It's all about choices and options.  I can't imagine having babies later in life, but dammit, if we want to have babies at 70 like Tony Randall, why shouldn't we?  Then you'd both be in diapers at the same time.  Maybe Pampers would give you a discount.  

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