Eggs from tissue taken from five-year-old girls suffering from cancer have been successfully grown by scientists from Hadassah Hebrew University Medical Centre in Jerusalem.
The breakthrough offers a ray of hope to childhood cancer sufferers who are often left infertile by the treatment, and are compelled to rely on donated eggs and sperm or adopting to have their own family.
The problem is especially difficult for children who develop cancer before they reach puberty because they cannot freeze their own eggs and sperm.
The scientists have managed to grow eggs in the laboratory from samples of ovarian tissue taken from girls as young as five.
Immature eggs can be removed from the tissue and grown to maturity in special culture.
The researchers further plan to conduct studies if they can be fertilised to create viable embryos.
These could then be frozen and stored for future use or the unfertilised eggs could be frozen using the latest techniques, which have proven more effective.
"As our ability to treat childhood cancers improves, it becomes more important that those survivors are able to live rich, full lives, including the ability have children," the Telegraph quoted Dr. David Adamson, the President of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, as saying.
"This research helps move us to the goal of allowing paediatric cancer survivors to become parents," he added.
The study included 19 patients between the ages of five and 20 and on average they were able to retrieve nine eggs per patient and 34 per cent of them were successfully matured.