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

04 July, 2018, 06:33 | Author: Veronica Peterson
  • It is hoped an engineered structure could be re-implanted into women and restore fertility after they have completed chemotherapy or radiotherapy

An artificial ovary may allow cancer patients to preserve their fertility, according to Danish researchers exploring a process in which early-stage cells can develop into functional ovarian follicles, CNN reported.

The patients who might benefit from an artificial ovary, if one is created, are select women who have a type of cancer that causes malignant cells in their ovarian tissue, such as ovarian cancer and some blood-born cancers including leukemia.

In this new research, scientists in Denmark removed ovarian follicles and ovarian tissue from women due to have cancer treatment.

Even in its early stage, the research could be a groundbreaking development in relation to fertility options for women who undergo cancer treatments.

"This work could eventually develop into an artificial ovary in five or 10 years, but I don't know if there are many women who could make use of this", said Daniel Brison, scientific director of the Department of Reproductive Medicine at the University of Manchester. To this end, the ovarian tissue is purified reagents from the cells, which could be affected by cancer, and left, the basis of connective tissue.

A "bio-engineered" ovary would reduce this risk, the research team from Rigshospitalet said.

Their experiments used ovarian tissue removed from women trying to preserve their fertility before cancer treatment.

On Monday, Pors will tell the annual meeting of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology in Barcelona how the team implanted an artificial ovary holding 20 human follicles into a mouse and found that a quarter of them survived for at least three weeks.

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Experiments in which the structure was transplanted into mice showed it could support the survival and growth of the follicles.

It can then be grafted into the patient's body and go on to allow a woman to produce eggs naturally each month.

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

There could be another way for women to have children after going through fertility-damaging cancer treatments.

Consultant gynecologist, Stuart Lavery from the Hammersmith Hospital said that, "Because potentially these small pieces of tissue will have thousands of eggs and clearly if it does work, there's the advantage of then getting pregnant the old-fashioned way".

Now their best option is to freeze their eggs before problems in the ovary start and then undergo potentially gruelling IVF.

He added: "It is still yet to be put into clinical practice but it certainly holds much promise for the future".

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