Powdered eggs added to IVF complications

Until now women who wanted to preserve their eggs until the alarm rings on their reproductive clock had to freeze their eggs and store them at an IVF clinic.

Now an Israeli company is working on a technique which freeze dries eggs so that they can be taken home and preserved indefinitely in a sealed sachet. According to New Scientist, Dr Amir Arav,  of Core Dynamics, has already demonstrated that the technique works with cow eggs. Now he is testing whether viable offspring will result from the “powdered eggs”.

Theoretically, all that a woman would need to do to become pregnant is open the sachet, add water and sperm and implant the viable embryos. "You can keep the powder at room temperature forever – and just add water to bring it back to life," says Dr Arav.

The convenience of sachets could lead to some interesting bioethical and legal complications. What if sachets were stolen? Could they be sold on eBay? Could they be shipped around the world?

Much more work needs to be done, however, before powdered eggs are commercially available. “If the vision is for women to take their freeze-dried eggs home with them, will those eggs deteriorate over time or lose their reproductive potential?" Claus Andersen of the University Hospital of Copenhagen, Denmark, told New Scientist. "The freeze-drying needs to be shown to be as good as the conventional method of freezing under liquid nitrogen, and this could take some time."

This article is published by Michael Cook and BioEdge.org under a Creative Commons licence. You may republish it or translate it free of charge with attribution for non-commercial purposes following these guidelines. If you teach at a university we ask that your department make a donation. Commercial media must contact us for permission and fees. Some articles on this site are published under different terms.

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