(NEW YORK TIMES) — Researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital say they have extracted stem cells from human ovaries and made them generate egg cells. The advance, if confirmed, might provide a new source of eggs for treating infertility, though scientists say it is far too early to tell if the work holds such promise.

Jonathan L. Tilly led the study, which, if confirmed, could pave the way for new infertility treatments.

Women are born with a complement of egg cells that must last throughout life. The ability to isolate stem cells from which eggs could be cultivated would help not only with fertility but also with biologists’ understanding of how drugs and nutrition affect the egg cells.

The new research, by a team led by the biologist Jonathan L. Tilly, depends on a special protein found to mark the surface of reproductive cells like eggs and sperm. Using a cell-sorting machine that can separate out the marked cells, the team obtained reproductive cells from mouse ovaries and showed that the cells would generate viable egg cells that could be fertilized and produce embryos.

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