Ovaries are important.
They’re not just the place where eggs develop in women, but they are also the source of hormones including estrogen and progesterone. Such hormones regulate many tissues and organs in women and are important for normal health – whether or not she has, or plans to have, children.
While scientists have a good idea of what adult ovaries look like – in other words, what the important types of cells are in terms of egg and hormone production, and how the cells arrange themselves into a defined,workable structure – they hadn’t really known how the adult set-up comes about during fetal development and childhood. What goes wrong in the ovary when conditions such as Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (known as PCOS) or ovarian cancer develop had been mysterious as well.
New research from Adelaide’s Robinson Institute is expected to change this.
Professor Ray Rodgers and his postdoctoral colleague Dr Katja Hummitzsch have discovered a new cell type in ovaries, and used it as a handy identifier to track how ovaries develop and form adult-like structures during normal development.
[image is of a plush ovary – yes really – available here]