According to new reports, it is possible for older human eggs to be made young again, which is a breakthrough scientific discovery as it might mean a welcome boosting of fertility for those who are struggling to have kids.
More precisely, a Jerusalem lab discovered that, after treatment with anti-viral medicine, ova from women older than 40 is able to take on some characteristics of eggs from women half that age.
The research paper was published not too long ago and it is already peer reviewed.
With that being said, the scientist team from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem has identified an aging mechanism that was previously unknown.
According to these researchers, administering anti-viral drugs to the human egg in test tubes can reverse its aging.
While this method is still to be tested against fertilization, it could really mean hope for people over the age of 40 whose older eggs make congenital defects and even miscarriages be more common as a result.
The experiment involved hundreds of mice eggs first, before the scientists moved on to leftover human eggs from IVF cycles and willfully donated to the lab.
According to the researchers, the eggs that were reverse aged have chromosomes more similar to those usually found in younger eggs as well as less damaged DNA.
Furthermore, while in test tubes they matured better.
The paper was published in the Aging Cell journal and the authors stress that there are also other similar aging mechanisms in human eggs that they have not affected.
Another thing they are yet to try is introducing sperm to the eggs that have undergone the reverse aging process so they have not proven whether the method is truly able to improve fertility or not.
Regardless, they do plan to do that soon.
Dr. Michael Klutstein, a Hebrew University molecular biologist and the leader of the research, shared with The Times of Israel that “Many women are trying to get pregnant aged forty or over, and we think that this could actually increase their fertility level. Within ten years, we hope to use anti-viral drugs to increase fertility among older women.”
As you may be aware, as they age, women become less fertile due to the fact that their eggs tend to accumulate more genetic damage.
With that being said, by their late 30s, so much damage to the DNA will have accumulated that they are no longer able to mature and get fertilized.
Furthermore, those who do manage to get pregnant at a later age, also tend to experience more complications.
Klutstein and the rest of the team successfully identified one of the processes that prevent the proper maturing of eggs.
As Klutstein explains, “A battle happens inside a woman’s body, and eggs are one of the key targets. happens is that parts of the DNA have ability to attack and harm other parts of the DNA. They do this so exactly like a virus attacks, by making copies of themselves inside the cell.”
Also according to Klutstein, the body is normally able to put up a really efficient defense in order to protect the egg cell but that natural defense gets weaker and weaker with age.
“Because the attacking DNA behaves like a virus, we hypothesized that anti-viral medicine administered to eggs may reverse age them and rejuvenate them, and found in our lab that this is the case. We tested hundreds of mouse eggs and then human eggs, which confirmed the hypothesis.”
So what’s next? The expert is determined to lead a first experiment meant to assess if this process can increase reproduction chances.
This involves IVF with reverse aged mice eggs.
Klutstein stressed that he is “fairly confident” this method will lead to a better outcome, hopefully helping women everywhere one day.