|Professor Ku Seung-yup|
Researchers at Seoul National University Hospital (SNUH), Cornell University and Wake Forest University have developed a method for acquiring a large number of human eggs, or ova, in a single follicular maturation model.
Follicular in vitro maturation model has been attracting attention as a new alternative method to preserve fertility in recent years. The technology allows patients with severe diseases, such as cancer, to maintain fertilized eggs by culturing follicles collected in advance and frozen in vitro.
Ordinarily, follicles develop into eggs inside women’s body before they become fertilized by sperms. When the eggs do not grow properly, however, doctors induce superovulation through a hormone injection. Afterward, they take the follicle tissue out of the body and cultivate it as an egg in a test tube.
If a sperm manages to fertilize the egg, it is put back into the uterus. This procedure is known as an in vitro procedure. However, even then success rate remains at around 30 percent as the in vitro procedure can only fertilize one egg.
The research team, led by Professor Ku Seung-yup of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at SNUH, developed an in vitro maturation model of multiple follicular sacks to achieve to increase sharply the number of eggs obtained.
Usually, during the process where one of the many follicles in the body matures into a fertile egg, the body secretes inhibitors that interfere with neighboring follicular growth. The team has developed a method to cultivate simultaneously multiple follicles after discovering angiotensin II, a vasoconstrictor inducer that chooses the egg for fertilization.
As a result, the follicle culture rate increased 2.6 times when the team injected angiotensin II into follicular sacks. Also, there was no difference in the fertilization rate of the eggs.
“We have considerably improved the efficiency and usability of follicular in vitro maturation model, a useful methodology for basic research on follicles and egg,” Professor Ku said. “The model used in the research can also apply to an artificial ovary or ovulation model.”
The hospital plans to conduct subsequent studies and expect that 30 percent of women who have infertility problem can benefit from this method.
The Journal of Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine published the results of the study.