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Cancer Patients Could Preserve Fertility With Artificial Ovary

05 July 2018

The research stems from initiatives to preserve a woman's fertility while she undergoes cancer treatment.

This is an "exciting" technique, but still requires testing in humans, experts said. However, it involves a small risk as the ovarian tissue may itself be infected with the cancerous cells among those with cancer, increasing the risk of the disease taking a hold and returning back after the transplant is conducted.

The group in Copenhagen demonstrated that a lab-made ovary could sustain life of human eggs for a considerable length of time at once, raising expectations that the approach would someday be able to aid women in starting families of their own after undergoing hard procedures, for example, radiotherapy and chemotherapy. These follicles, according to Pors, could eventually develop and grow naturally, restoring a woman's fertility. However, this runs the risk of reintroducing cancer cells, as some cancers can spread to the ovaries. To make one, they used chemicals to strip donated ovarian tissue of all of its cells, including any lurking cancer cells.

Stuart Lavery, consultant gynaecologist at Hammersmith Hospital, said that if this is shown to be effective, it offers huge advantages over IVF and egg freezing.

Removal of these cells left a "scaffold" of the original tissue.

Currently, fertility may be preserved in girls and women undergoing cancer treatment by removing and freezing some ovarian tissue before treatment. On this, the researchers seeded with hundreds of ovarian follicles, fluid-filled sacs that contains undeveloped eggs. Pors and her co-authors concluded, "This is the first time that isolated human follicles have survived in a decellularized human scaffold".

Daniel Brison, scientific director of the Department of Reproductive Medicine at the University of Manchester, said the new research is "a very interesting and novel" approach to fertility preservation.

The Daily Telegraph reported that the "artificial ovary" was implanted into a mouse, and the process succeeded after several attempts. They are thrust into premature menopause, and although the use of hormone replacement therapy and their own cryopreserved eggs allows some of these women to become pregnant, their natural hormones and natural fertility will not be renewed.

The technique will be of particular benefit to female cancer sufferers whose fertility is often destroyed by radio and chemotherapy, as well as patients with multiple sclerosis and certain blood disorders. "But it will be many years before we can put this into a woman".

Cancer Patients Could Preserve Fertility With Artificial Ovary