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Infertility Breakthrough With First Birth from Lab-matured Egg

The first baby to be created from an egg matured in a laboratory, frozen, thawed and then fertilised, has been born in Canada, researchers told a medical conference on Monday.

The baby girl was born to a woman diagnosed with advanced ovarian disease, and three other women in the 20-person trial group are pregnant by the same technique, researchers said.

Doctors already collect and store eggs from women who face cancer treatment that could cause sterility.

The eggs -- harvested after stimulating the ovaries with hormones -- are fertilised in-vitro with their partner's sperm, then frozen. After the cancer therapy, the eggs are then thawed and implanted.

The Canadian team said the prototype technique took this fertility preservation a major step further. The eggs were recovered from unstimulated ovaries and in addition were fertilised after they had been frozen and then thawed, and not before.

"Until now, it was not known whether oocytes (human eggs) collected from unstimulated ovaries, matured in vitro and then vitrified could survive thawing, be fertilised successfully and result in a viable pregnancy after embryo transfer," said Hananel Holzer, who led the team from the McGill Reproductive Center in Montreal.

"We have demonstrated for the first time that it is possible to do this and, so far, we have achieved four successful pregnancies, one of which has resulted in a live birth. The other three pregnancies are ongoing."

The breakthrough was announced at the annual conference of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology (EHSRE), meeting in this southeastern French city.

The trial group comprised 20 women, whose average age was about 30, who had been diagnosed by ultrasound to have polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), a fertility-threatening hormonal disorder that affects around 10 percent of all women of child-bearing years.

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