A new technology of oocyte storage

It seems that a group of scientists from the Israeli Core Dynamic Center managed to create a new way of preserving eggs.

During a standard cryopreservation procedure, eggs are being frozen in liquid nitrogen at about -200 degrees centigrade below zero. The disadvantage of this method is that eggs contain a large amount of water which freezes into ice, crystals of which may damage the cell membrane. To avoid it, the method of vitrification is used when freezing eggs - a super-fast way to cool the oocytes, where the water goes directly into a jelly-like state. The Israeli scientists have gone even further by adding to the standard procedure of oocytes freezing and the subsequent vitrification another stage - they turned the eggs into a powder.

To do so, the residual liquid was evaporated from the cells at -55 degrees and under the low pressure. To store the powder properly, it should be placed in a light-tight vacuum packaging. "At room temperature, this powder can be stored for as long as the patient wants," - says Dr. Amir Harav (Arav Amir) - the main developer of the new method. To "revive" the egg it will be enough just to add water, and then to produce fertilization with sperm and to implant the embryo.

Dr. Harav and his colleagues have already demonstrated their invention at a conference in Berlin, for the moment with bovine oocytes only. The scientists got 23 viable eggs from 30, which is a very good result. Now, they are waiting for a permission to conduct experiments with human cells. The Israelis are hoping that, if successful, their technique will become quite popular, and can be used, for example, to preserve fertility for cancer patients or even in the case of death of a woman.

I'm always for the appearance of the new methods of struggle against infertility, and it’s difficult to overestimate the value of the new developments in this area. However, for a while I wouldn’t seriously count on the massive use of the Israeli invention in the near future. To date, the new technology has been tested only on animals, and the experts will have to determine whether it’s possible to get healthy full-fledged human embryos in this way.

For those who for some reason have to think about saving their reproductive function right now, I would advise to use a well-functioning and well-proven technology of cryopreservation of oocytes or embryos. However, despite the fact that these technologies have been successfully used for a long time and have already proven their effectiveness, we must not forget that the success of the procedure depends on the qualification of the doctors and the quality of the materials that they use, so it’s necessary to carefully choose the clinic, which you entrust your future.