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Aurora magazine

Pigs reveal how to facilitate assisted fertilization

Researchers at the University of Missouri have discovered how to facilitate assisted fertilization. Thanks to a study on pig stem cells, they found a way to lower IVF costs. In this way technology will be more accessible and available for many more couples.

The researchers were studying the way stem cells proliferate, communicate with each other, and grow. To do so were piglets, which required the production of specific embryos and their implantation. An expensive and often bankrupt operation, just like IVF in humans. During one of the tests, they identified a special liquid medium that increases the probability of successful in vitro fertilization.

Under normal conditions, scientists extract oocytes and ovules from females. They put them in a chemical environment designed to ripen the eggs, then fertilize them. They make the zygotes obtained for 6 days, after which they transfer them to a female. The operation has about 1-2% chance of success in piglets. For this reason Ye Yuan and Lee Spate had the task of looking for alternative solutions.

The team analyzed growth factors used for stem cell cultures. They have added three new factors: FGF2, LIF and IGF. From the combination, the researchers obtained a fluid for the development of oocytes. The new compound makes them more suitable for fertilization and allows a higher rate of success in pigs IVF. Further studies will have to check the effectiveness even on humans.