BOSTON, July 28, 2005 ( – A team of Harvard scientists have discovered a reservoir of stem cells that appear capable of restoring the fertility of sterilized mice. While cautioning that such cells have yet to be found in human women, the researchers are hopeful that the discovery may contribute to the understanding of the reproductive system and aid the infertile.

“This may launch a new era in how to think about female infertility and menopause,” said Jonathan L. Tilly, a reproductive biologist at Harvard Medical School.

The researchers found that some cells in the bone marrow and blood of mice can “restock” a depleted ovary with new egg cells within weeks.

The team found that bone marrow or blood cell transplants appear to completely revive the ovaries of female mice sterilized by chemotherapy. Just 24 hours after a transplant, the sterilized mice had new egg cells.

Tilly said that the findings may mean that women could bank egg-producing cells in case they have health problems that leave them infertile later in life.

“In theory, these cells could provide an insurance policy. We could harvest them and store them away for 20 years. Then you put them back in, and they are going to do exactly what they are supposed to—find the ovaries and generate new eggs” to restore fertility, Tilly said.

Read coverage from Medical News Today: