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Female Mice Produce Eggs throughout Their Lives

Catherine McDiarmid-Watt | Monday, December 11, 2006 | 0 comments

Every woman grows up believing she won’t be able to bear children late in life. Researchers believe the same, and the textbooks all say that women are born with a finite supply of eggs that goes bad with age. Now, a new study in mice is challenging this basic tenet of reproductive biology.

Scientists have discovered that female mice produce eggs throughout their lives, replenishing their supply on a daily basis. The key to this process is a special kind of “stem cell” that is the precursor to an egg.

By studying the mice, the researchers concluded that problems with reproduction late in life may have more to do with the supply of reproductive stem cells than with the eggs.

Similar stem cells may be present in the human ovary, and the possibility raises hope for new approaches to fertility treatment. In theory, new stem cells could be implanted into women to rejuvenate an ovary compromised by cancer treatments or by the natural aging process. But first researchers need to find the stem cells themselves in the human ovary.

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About Catherine: I am mom to three grown sons, two grandchildren and two rescue dogs. After years of raising my boys as a single mom, I remarried a wonderful man who had never had a child of his own. Unexpectedly, I found myself pregnant at 49!
Sadly we lost that precious baby at 8 weeks, and decided to try again. Five more losses, turned down for donor egg, foster care and adoption due to my age and losses - we have accepted that there will be no more babies in our house.

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