Skip to Content
Biotechnology and health

The first lab-grown human eggs could help fight infertility

February 9, 2018

The precursors to human eggs have been grown to full maturity outside the body for the first time.

The news: By carefully controlling conditions like oxygen levels and nutrients, as well as variables such as the surfaces on which precursor cells are grown, researchers from the University of Edinburgh in the UK coaxed these cells into fully developed eggs in 22 days. Usually it takes five months in the body.

Why it matters:  As the BBC notes, it could enable young female cancer sufferers who are made infertile by chemotherapy to later use their own eggs during IVF. It also gives researchers a rare chance to study how eggs develop.

But: While the eggs reached maturity, it’s unclear if they’re healthy, or whether they can be properly fertilized into an embryo. Those experiments are next on the researchers’ to-do list, though such tests will need approval and, for ethical reasons, will study only the very first stages of development.

Deep Dive

Biotechnology and health

What to know about this autumn’s covid vaccines

New variants will pose a challenge, but early signs suggest the shots will still boost antibody responses.

A biotech company says it put dopamine-making cells into people’s brains

The experiment to treat Parkinson’s is a critical early test of stem cells’ potential to tackle serious disease.

Tiny faux organs could crack the mystery of menstruation

Researchers are using organoids to unlock one of the human body’s most mysterious—and miraculous—processes.

After 25 years of hype, embryonic stem cells are still waiting for their moment

Research roadblocks and political debates have delayed progress—but scientists are inching closer to delivering a cure. 

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.