Israeli scientists have said they have been able to extend women's fertility by reversing the ageing mechanism in eggs. The scientists said the breakthrough finding was achieved using antiviral drugs.
Usually, by the time a woman is in her late- thirties, her eggs will have accumulated some degree of damage to the DNA. Egg cells start accumulating damage to genetic material when a woman is relatively young, the scientists said, according to IANS.
Hebrew University of Jerusalem
According to the researchers at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, antiviral drugs can reverse the process in mouse and human egg cells and return to their former youthful selves.
"Within a decade, I hope we will be able to increase fertility among older women using antiviral drugs," said Michael Klutstein, head of the Chromatin and Ageing Research Lab in the Faculty of Dental Medicine at the HU, the agency reported.
The report cites similar success using genetic manipulation to insert two genes into the mouse egg cell DNA.
The findings were published in the journal Ageing Cell.
The team successfully identified one of the ageing processes that prevent the successful maturation of an egg cell.
Most importantly among them is the loss of the regulation processes that normally stop the damaging parts of DNA from becoming active.
The HU team's research, using mouse and human egg cells, not only identified the details of these processes but showed how they are interrelated and ultimately prevent an egg cell from maturing.
Processes of Loss of Genomic Regulation
To confirm their findings, the team then used chemicals that mimic the actual processes that stop repression of sections of the egg cell's DNA and liberate the DNA-damaging viruses.
Reproducing the ageing processes artificially enabled the team to link the processes of loss of genomic regulation and the expression of damaging elements in ageing egg cells.
The final stage of their research tested ways to reverse the destructive aging processes at work in an egg cell. If viruses or parts of viruses were released and activated in ageing eggs, then perhaps antiviral drugs could prevent this process and the resulting damage, the team said.
(With IANS inputs)