An artificial ovary for fertility preservation without the risk of reintroducing malignancy

04 Julio, 2018, 06:31 | Author: Earnest Bishop
  • The study promises hope for infertile women

This is perhaps the only treatment for preserving fertility in women.

The research is being presented at the annual meeting of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology.

A new option for fertility?

The work is an important proof-of-concept, which may pave the way for developing artificial ovaries for women undergoing cancer treatment.

Two methods of fertility preservation are available. These intense therapies damage and destroy the ovarian tissues. In the society's published opinion, the risk of reintroducing malignancy is "currently unknown for most types of cancer", although ovarian, leukemia and other blood-borne cancers are known to carry the greatest risk.

Prepubertal girls or women who need urgent treatment before they produce eggs, rely on ovarian tissue, which contains thousands of immature eggs in fluid-filled sacs called follicles, to be preserved instead with the aim of transplanting it after treatment. Fertility of a woman can be jeopardized when the ovaries do not function normally.

During their experiment, the researchers used a three-day chemical process to ensure that all traces of cancer were eliminated. But here all potentially cancerous cells are stripped from the tissue removing any chance of cancer. The follicles, she said are covered with a basal membrane that does not allow the cancer cells to enter.

A synthetic organ - made out of the woman's own tissue - could be transplanted into a female left infertile due to medical treatment. The new biological material successfully allowed cells to interact with each other and develop.

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This development occurred in vitro, or outside the body.

Experiments in which the structure was transplanted into mice showed it could support the survival and growth of the follicles. So doctors usually don't offer this option to high-risk patients. In these conditions, the solution is transplantation of a tissue of the ovary.

He added that the new technique transplants only the eggs and surrounding cells of the follicle (seeded into a matrix) back into the uterus.

Though this approach might work, he concluded that "it is not possible to tell until the data from this research group have been peer-reviewed by the scientific community and published in a scientific journal".

Although the artificial ovaries have not been tested on humans, the scientists believe, in theory, the eggs would begin to mature and, in accordance with one's menstrual cycle, be released.

"At this stage many questions remain", said Anderson, who was not involved in the research.

"The beauty of this is that numerous women who are having ovarian grafts can go and get pregnant naturally, and don't need to go through IVF".


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