Source: www.bloomberg.com By Robert Langreth – Feb 14, 2013
Scientists have found a possible reason why women lose their fertility in middle age, in a discovery that could pave the way for treatments to extend women’s childbearing years beyond what is naturally possible.
In a series of experiments on eggs from women getting fertility treatments, researchers learned that the function of several DNA repair genes weaken with age. This decline is accelerated in women near the end of their childbearing years, according to the results published in the journal Science Translational Medicine http://stm.sciencemag.org/.
The experiments hint at why the female biological clock runs out as women reach their early 40s. The ability to repair DNA inside their egg cells may become impaired, leading to accumulating damage to the eggs that causes them to die off more rapidly, said Kutluk Oktay http://www.nymc.edu, senior author on the study and a professor at New York Medical College in Valhalla, New York.
“We found a reason behind age-related infertility, why women become infertile as they become older,” said Oktay, who is also a fertility specialist at the Institute for Fertility Preservation http://www.fertilitypreservation.org/ in Rye, New York.
“We are saying here is how women’s eggs age.”
The results suggest it may be possible to safely extend a woman’s childbearing years by devising a treatment that preserves the functions of the DNA repair genes inside the eggs. Oktay is beginning to test substances that may accomplish this in his laboratory, he said in a telephone interview. He wouldn’t provide any details.
Such a treatment might be able to extend a woman’s ability to have children into her early 50s, he said.
Read the full story here: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-02-14/female-biological-clock-runs-out-as-egg-repair-genes-wane.html