October 17, 2018

Artificial ovary could help women conceive after chemotherapy

05 July 2018, 03:35 | Silvia Roy

Artificial ovary could help women conceive after chemotherapy

Artificial ovary could help women conceive after chemotherapy

Cancer treatments such as chemotherapy and radiotherapy, can damage the ovaries and leave women infertile. By removing DNA from ovarian tissue cells, the method could also cut the risk of cancer re-occurring through an ovarian implant, since these cells don't contain the aberrant biological coding that would cause malignant growths.

A team of Danish reproductive biologists has developed a new technique for building a tissue scaffold that mimics a human ovary yet contains no cells.

The research is to be presented at the 34th Annual Meeting of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology in Barcelona, Spain by the study's co-author, Dr. Susanne Pors, who is a postdoctoral fellow in the Laboratory of Reproductive Biology at the University Hospital of Copenhagen Rigshospitalet.

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Danish scientists have developed a new technology that could, theoretically, one day be used as a fertility method for cancer patients whose treatment has made it far more hard to conceive. This new method shows promise for women undergoing cancer treatments who are wanting to conceive after their treatment. 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. Therefore, women are advised to take measures to preserve their fertility before undergoing treatment. "It could take five to 10 years of work before artificial ovaries are ready for human trials". In some cases, all or part of the ovary is removed before those cancer treatments and frozen so that it can be used in the future, BBC News reported. Next, early stage follicles are thawed and reintroduced into the scaffold in the lab.

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

The development achieved by researchers at the Rigshospitalet in Denmark, which could be available within three years, means women with malfunctioning ovaries can look forward to getting pregnant naturally. "This is early days for the work but it's a very interesting proof of concept", said Nick Macklon, a medical director at London Women's Clinic.

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Do you believe that an artificial ovary transplant is the best solution to help any woman conceive?

About 2% of women of reproductive age who have cancer and go through treatment are at risk of losing their ovarian function - and thus their fertility.

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

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