04 April 2013 by Andy Coghlan
What happened to the good old way of getting pregnant ? It seems these days more women are taking control over their bodies and making decisions that would have been considered a dream not to long ago. This just goes to show how far we have reached in medicinal research.
Not ready to get pregnant , but scared of what might happen if you wait to long ? Researchers have long been developing methods for women to preserve their ‘young eggs’ for later use, usually by freezing them in liquid nitrogen. However this method can be very expensive and as with any techniques there can be complications, this is understandable as we are only humans!
In recent research Dr Amir Arav of Core Dynamics has been developing a new , simpler method in which the eggs can be preserved. So simple its basically just adding water and sperm! His method involves the oocytes being powedrised which can be kept at room temperature and to revive then just add some water. It was demonstrated at a conference in Berlin Germany using cow eggs just last month.
With any new techniques there will be countless hours of testing and re – testing, until a final method is established. To start off Dr. Arav soaks the cells in a cryoprotectant solution, included in this solution is the sugar trehalose , this usually helps animals survive freezing and dehydration. After being soaked the eggs will undergo a process called vitrification which converts it into a glass – like solid state. This method is also used on human eggs before liquid nitrogen. Rapid freezing occurs, so rapid ‘ it takes tenth of a second to reach – 200 degrees Celsius, ‘ says Arav. This prevents any residual water to form ice crystals.
We have now reached the final stage which involves freeze – drying and powder. The now vitrified cell will be stored at – 55 degrees Celsius under low pressure for a day, this is done so that any frozen residual water would be converted into a gas. When this is completed what remains is just a powder and can be stored under different conditions such as without air, light and basically anything that could cause damage.
Arav already used this technique on 30 cow eggs, from which only 23 were deemed viable. He also said that it works on erythrocytes and human monocular cells.
While this new technique seems great, there are still concerns from various people on wheater it would work as good as liquid nitrogen, or of it would work better, or even work at all. Claus Anderson of the University of Copenhagen Denmark, asks if the oocytes can be fertilized after freeze – drying, and if they would develop into and embryo and further into a healthy child. Since this is such early research the answers to these questions cannot be given.
Hope you enjoyed my first published paper review!