Artificial ovary fertility treatment developed by scientists

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

If researchers were able to successfully construct an artificial ovary that could allow cancer patients to preserve their fertility, they would open up a door of possibilities when it comes to fertility preservation.

"The artificial ovary will consist of a scaffold (originating from the woman's own tissue or from donated tissue) combined with her own follicles", Dr. Susanne Pors, a co-author of the new study, said.

Chemotherapy drugs can render a woman infertile as they can destroy ovaries.

The chemical process left a "decellularized scaffold" made up of proteins and collagens, the normal material that connect cells.

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The findings of the study were disclosed through a research paper released during an annual meeting held by the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology which provided more details about the way followed by the associated scientists to create the artificial ovaries.

At present, there are a couple of methods at her disposal: she could choose to remove and freeze some of her eggs and then, after her treatment, she can opt for in-vitro fertilization.

But there is a small risk that in those with cancer the ovarian tissue may contain cancerous cells, raising the chances of the illness returning when the transplant takes place. One of the options of preserving fertility is freezing the eggs after their removal prior to cancer therapy. On this, the researchers seeded with hundreds of ovarian follicles, fluid-filled sacs that contains undeveloped eggs.

As a proof-of-concept, Pors said it could offer a new strategy in fertility preservation without risk of cancer reoccurrence. When they have the all-clear, the tissue is put back and the women can go on to have babies naturally.

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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".

Professor Macklon said that for this technique to be used in humans, its safety will have to be shown, and that it actually works in humans.

But certain cancers, such as ovarian or leukemia, can invade the ovarian tissue itself and then be reintroduced into the woman's body.

The American Cancer Society reported that cancer treatments can drastically impact a woman's ability to conceive.

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The technique, she added, would be applicable to cancer patients having cryopreserved ovarian tissue transplanted for fertility restoration. Renewed hormonal function occurred in 95% of these women, and more than 100 children have been conceived after the tissue transfers.

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