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Rescuing Eggs

December 13, 2012

A substance called putrescine has the potential to boost fertility in women over 40.

Transcript

BOB HIRSHON (host):

H2O vs. infertility. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

One reason fertility tends to decline as women approach 40 is because a large percentage of their eggs are missing whole sections of genetic code. As a result, many embryos are miscarried or have birth defects. Dr. Johné Liu of theUniversityofOttawasays aging also corresponds with a drop in levels of a substance called putrescine, which is thought to be essential for cell division in mammals. He and his colleagues gave older female mice putrescine in their drinking water. As a result, the rate of genetic abnormalities in their eggs was cut in half. Liu hopes that putrescine could one day be turned into a pill to treat infertile women.

JOHNÉ LIU (University of Ottawa):

What that mean is that then you greatly increase the chance of an older woman producing an egg with normal chromosomes, and therefore a normal live embryo in pregnancy.

HIRSHON:

I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.