Monday, October 29, 2007

DHEA boosts egg production in older women?

Yes, that's a question. I've long known of DHEA as a popular supplement for men as they get older to help keep hormone levels closer to what they were as young men. The wisdom of that is rather questionable unless there is some real medical need. But apparently some women who are undergoing IVF treatment have been self-medicating (without telling their doctors) with DHEA and had a surprising increase in number of eggs harvested. The Center for Human Reproduction in New York began exploring the effects of DHEA in 2004 when they learned that an older patient of theirs had been taking the drug without telling them. Other fertility specialists have been discussing this but no clinical trials have been performed. Doctors also advise that high doses of DHEA can have adverse side effects so you should consult your doctor about it.


Womb on a chip

Researchers at the University of Tokyo are experimenting with a "womb-on-a-chip", an alternative to the petri dish for use in IVF. The hope is that this new approach will improve IVF results.

This artificial high tech "womb" is comprised of a silicon chip on which a bed of uterus cell have been cultured. An egg is deposited on the chip and sperm are added to fertilize it. Then a micropump continuously applies a wash of culture fluids to the early embryos until they are ready to be implanted a real womb.

Research is currently underway using eggs and sperm from mice. Possible use for human IVF is still a ways off.