Scientists claim women possess a potentially “unlimited” supply of eggs in their ovaries, which could someday allow them to give birth later in life.
A team, led by the Massachusetts General Hospital in the US, has in fact found that women's ovaries contain stem cells which could "spontaneously" generate into immature eggs—in the laboratory for the time being.
The long-established theory is that women are born with all the eggs they will ever have, which gradually diminish in number and quality until the menopause.
But lead researcher Dr Jonathan Tilly said this study, a follow up to one on mice in 2004, disproves that.
In their study, the scientists managed to identify and extract human stem cells that can go on to become immature eggs, because all carry a protein called DDX4.
When grown in the lab, the cells “spontaneously generated” immature eggs or oocytes, which looked and acted like oocytes in the body. The cells were “matured” when surrounded by human ovarian tissue, which had been grafted inside mice.