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Egg-Producing Stem Cells

March 12, 2012

Contrary to popular belief, women can produce new egg cells in adulthood.



New eggs challenge old beliefs…I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

In junior high health class, you probably learned that a woman is born with all the eggs she’ll ever have. But a recent study challenges that long-held assumption. Dr. Jonathan Tilly of Massachusetts General Hospital and his colleagues have found that women do actually continue to produce the precursors to new egg cells in adulthood. The discovery could lead to treatments for menopause-related health conditions, as well as extend a woman’s reproductive life. Tilly says the discovery comes as a big surprise to many scientists, but likens it to a similar revelation that once shook the field of brain science.

DR. JONATHAN TILLY (Massachusetts General Hospital):

This discovery that these egg precursor cells exist in adult ovaries very much parallels the discovery of the presence of new brain stem cells. That field underwent a similar debate for about 10 years before the concept that the brain could actually regenerate new neurons was widely accepted by the field.


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