OvaPrime – Can You Stop Your Biological Clock?
Most people have never heard of OvaPrime, but this recent development could prove to be a game-changer in fertility medicine. In fact, it could very well make egg freezing obsolete and in the process transform the lives of thousands of women across the country. So, can you stop your biological clock?
“OvaPrime really just started,” says Mark P. Trolice, M.D., board-certified reproductive endocrinology and infertility specialist and founder of Fertility CARE: The IVF Center. “It’s an amazing breakthrough.”
Women in their mid-40s and older are often told that an egg donor is their only remaining option to get pregnant. That is, until now.
“This throws the thinking upside down over what we’re actually experiencing,” says Dr. Trolice. “We always said that women were born with all the eggs they’re ever going to have. Now they may be able to refuel!”
The Current Paradigm
The prevailing wisdom in the medical world has been that women are born with all the eggs they are ever going to have. Once a woman’s egg supply and quality begins to diminish with age, affirm most fertility doctors, she is unlikely to conceive even with the help of advanced techniques like in vitro fertilization (IVF).
In April 2009, a research team in China announced that they had discovered precursors to oocytes (immature egg cells) in adult mice. When the team transplanted the cells into sterile mice, they produced babies.
“They found mouse precursor cells of the ovary,” explains Dr. Trolice. “They were actually able to grow and mature them. In 2012, they found precursor stem cells in humans, that they were able to identify and now they’re looking to mature and fertilize.”
Indeed, researchers and reproductive biologists from Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston discovered the presence of egg precursor cells in the superficial layers of the female ovary. The young egg cells have the ability to grow into new, budding eggs. Scientists are starting to acknowledge that these vital young egg cells exist in women of any age.
“They took some precursor cells (from) under the cortex of the ovary, and they found these stem cells,” says Dr. Trolice. “Their research now is to take some of those stem cells and put them with a needle back into the ovary so they can mature those eggs, fertilize them and allow for babies.”
Dr. Trolice can already visualize how the discovery of egg precursor cells will affect his practice.
“I was doing an egg retrieval this morning where we go in through the back of the vagina, into the ovary with a needle and vacuum out the eggs,” says Dr. Trolice. “So this would be about a two-step procedure where they get the precursor cells from the ovary and put them back into the ovary to allow them to mature and fertilize.”
Researchers have noted that no evidence currently exists to confirm that the stem cells will be able to produce new eggs on their own, naturally in the body. But if fertility specialists were able to use the cells to produce eggs in a dish, then they could potentially be employed for IVF purposes, transforming the landscape of assisted reproduction.
That would mean that women who have healthy ovarian tissue could still access an unlimited supply of eggs. Other studies have determined that egg stem cells can remain in a woman’s ovaries well into her forties.
Who Can Benefit From OvaPrime?
So who can this breakthrough potentially benefit?
“This is great for women with significant ovarian aging, women with premature ovarian failure, early menopause, patients that have chemotherapy, and radiation from cancer,” says Dr. Trolice.
And although the treatment won’t be available in the U.S. for some time, OvaPrime is on the cusp of being approved for mainstream use just over the northern border. “OvaPrime is starting to do this right now in Canada, so this should be coming out in Canada hopefully within the year,” says Dr. Trolice.
OvaPrime Implications for Women
If the expectations for OvaPrime pan out, it could signal the end of the biological clock for women. It would give hope to many thousands of women who would have the ability to conceive genetic offspring of their own.
The need for a woman to freeze her eggs would disappear, as she could tap into an almost endless source of young eggs in her ovarian tissue.
“It throws everything upside down,” concludes Dr. Trolice. “Our thinking was that women were born with all the eggs they’re ever going to have and they continue to lose them until menopause. And this is refueling the ovary potentially…amazing implications.”
For more information on OvaPrime or if you have any questions or concerns about your own fertility,
contact us to schedule a one-on-one consultation with Dr. Trolice.