If you think a woman past child bearing age has to say goodbye to her motherhood dreams, think again. Thanks to The Toronto Centre for Advanced Reproductive Technology, a technique called AUGMENT is adding new life to old eggs.
How does it work?
Backed by a Massachusetts company called OvaScience, it works by rejuvenating a woman’s mature eggs using young, energy-producing cells harvested from small pieces of tissue taken from the outer edges of her own ovaries.
(Mitochondria — tiny, sausage-shaped structures — also contain genetic material that can be used to support older eggs.)
With this procedure, three pieces of ovarian tissue are taken during a laparoscopic biopsy. Then the tissue is frozen within one hour of collection. Afterwards, it is thawed and specially processed to isolate the mitochondria.
A month after the biopsy, the woman undergoes a full IVF stimulation. The woman is given drugs to stimulate her ovaries to churn out multiple eggs. The eggs are retrieved from her ovaries, and then the mitochondrial preparation is injected along with her partner’s sperm into the eggs.
This is being touted as a viable option for women with “compromised” egg health who want to carry their own babies but are at risk for a variety of reasons – one of them being waiting until they were older to have kids.
In a nutshell, AUGMENT is doing just that – augmenting eggs that have been there birth, but need a little jumpstart.
Professionals in the ovary science world are watching closely as it’s not 100% clear what adding younger mitochondria to older eggs could do to babies conceived with this new product. Scientists are hopeful however. Unlike a procedure a few years back which involved taking mitchondria from a younger woman and injecting it into an older woman, this procedure involves only one person.
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