Dr Hannah Brown started the research project in 2012 to try to understand more about the differences between good and bad eggs.
“We looked inside eggs and we found haemoglobin, which is the protein or the thing that’s inside red blood cells that makes them red,” she said.
“But also we found they’re on the inside [of] eggs that we use to make a baby.”
Dr Brown said the haemoglobin was present at very high levels in good eggs but it was missing from bad eggs.
“When we looked at those bad eggs — we knew that there was lots of things, there are lots of ways that your eggs can get bad or broken and we thought, well perhaps [haemoglobin] playing some important role that’s missing in bad eggs,” she said.
“What we did was add it back to those bad eggs and make them function more efficiently.
The research team has since been able to take a broken egg and mend it by adding haemoglobin.
“We think that this opens doors for women and young girls who have damaged eggs as a result of ageing and as a result of poor lifestyle choices,” Dr Brown said.
“By no means am I suggesting that this is a one-off cure for everything, but certainly it offers an opportunity where one may not currently exist.”
Fertility Society of Australia president Professor Michael Chapman said the research was promising.
“One of the biggest problems we have in our IVF clinics today is the increasing number of women in their forties seeking our help,” he said.
“The problem is that the biological clock has produced many, many bad eggs. And if there’s anything that would improve the quality of those eggs it would be fantastic.
“Research is still in animals, not in humans, so I wouldn’t go jumping to conclusions yet.
“I’d still keep saying, think about having your children earlier or you may be disappointed.”