In a series of experiments between 1960 and 1965, Robert Geoffrey Edwards discovered how to make mammalian egg cells, or oocytes, mature outside of a female's body. Edwards, working at several research institutions in the UK during this period, studied in vitro fertilization (IVF) methods. He measured the conditions and timings for in vitro (out of the body) maturation of oocytes from diverse mammals including mice, rats, hamsters, pigs, cows, sheep, and rhesus monkeys, as well as humans. By 1965, he manipulated the maturation of mammalian oocytes in vitro, and discovered that the maturation process took about the same amount of time as maturation in the body, called in vivo. The timing of human oocyte maturation in vivo, extrapolated from Edwards's in vitro study, helped researchers calculate the timing for surgical removal of human eggs for IVF.
First manufactured in 1988 by Serono laboratories, recombinant gonadotropins are synthetic hormones that can stimulate egg production in women for use in fertility treatments. Recombinant gonadotropins are artificially created using recombinant DNA technology, a technology that joins together DNA from different organisms. In vertebrates, naturally-occurring gonadotropins regulate the growth and function of the gonads, known as testes in males and ovaries in females. Medical professionals can derive female gonadotropins from the urine of pregnant and post-menopausal women, often using it to facilitate in vitro fertilization, or IVF. With the rapid development of assisted reproductive technologies like IVF, demand for human-derived gonadotropins rose to a global yearly demand of 120 million liters of urine by the beginning of the twenty-first century, which resulted in a demand that could not be met by traditional technologies at that time. Therefore, researchers created recombinant gonadotropins to establish a safer and more consistent method of human gonadotropin collection that met the high demand for its use in fertility treatments.