Early Success in Artificial Ovary Research

05 July, 2018, 03:31 | Author: Sherman Richardson
  • Pregnant

The authors explain that for most women who undergo cancer chemotherapy and radiation therapy preservation of the fertility is a challenge.

Dr. Richard Anderson, a professor and head of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Edinburgh, said in a statement that an artificial ovary capable of supporting development of the follicle and the egg within it "would be very valuable scientifically" in that it would help scientists "develop new tests and perhaps treatments for infertility".

The problem with the latter option, which the American Society of Reproductive Medicine considers "experimental", is that the ovarian tissue removed could contain malignant cells and therefore, once it is implanted, it could re-introduce cancer to the body.

The team then grew ovarian follicles on this scaffold of ovarian tissue.

Hence, to combat such a risk completely, the researchers from the Rigshospitalet in Copenhagen made a decision to develop artificial ovaries for patients who were due to undergo cancer treatment. This new method shows promise for women undergoing cancer treatments who are wanting to conceive after their treatment. However, this runs the risk of reintroducing cancer cells, as some cancers can spread to the ovaries. "It could take five to 10 years of work before artificial ovaries are ready for human trials".

One way women can preserve their chances of conceiving is with an ovarian tissue transplant, where all or part of the ovary is removed and frozen before it is damaged so that it can be used at a later date. This scaffold she explained originates from the woman's own tissues or from donated tissues. On this, the researchers seeded with hundreds of ovarian follicles, fluid-filled sacs that contains undeveloped eggs.

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"This is the first time that isolated human follicles have survived in a decellularized human scaffold", Pors went on to say.

For most patients the procedure is safe, but certain cancers, such as ovarian or leukaemia, can invade the ovarian tissue itself.

Experts expect the treatment to be offered to women within three years.

The Daily Telegraph reported that the "artificial ovary" was implanted into a mouse, and the process succeeded after several attempts.

Stuart Lavery, consultant gynaecologist at Hammersmith Hospital, said the ovarian tissue transplants potentially contained thousands of eggs that would enable women to get pregnant "naturally", as opposed to IVF where an egg is fertilised in a laboratory and then returned to the womb.

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