Could 'freeze-dried' eggs be new IVF breakthrough?
Want to make a baby? New research reveals that in the future it could be as simple as just adding water… and sperm!
Scientists have developed a way of freeze-drying human eggs so that they can be stored at room temperature almost indefinitely in sealed sachets, according to New Scientist.
To use the eggs in fertility treatment they just need to be rehydrated with water, fertilised with sperm and then the embryo can be implanted.
At present eggs are frozen and stored in liquid nitrogen at expensive facilities and are vulnerable to damage if allowed to defrost due to loss of power.
The new method should make it easier and cheaper for women who want to safeguard their fertility and store their eggs, so they can undergo IVF treatment later in life.
“You can keep the powder at room temperature forever – and just add water to bring it back to life,” said Dr Amir Arav, of Core Dynamics in Ness Ziona, Israel, where the technique was developed.
The process was demonstrated and used to freeze-dry 30 cow eggs, and when the eggs were rehydrated 23 of them were still found to be viable.
“I believe the future of fertility preservation will be a simple ‘on shelf’ preservation,” said Dr Arav.
The next step for the new process is to prove that rehydrated eggs can then be fertilised and grow into viable young, before trying it with human eggs.
According to New Scientist, Claus Anderson of the University Hospital of Copenhagen in Denmark said there are still some hurdles to be overcome before the new technique could be used to help women.
“We need to know whether the oocytes (eggs) can be fertilised after freeze-drying, whether they form normal embryos and develop into healthy offspring,” he said.
“The freeze drying needs to be shown to be as good as the conventional method of freezing under liquid nitrogen and this could take some time.”