Published: Thu, July 05, 2018
Health Care | By Cedric Leonard

Artificial Ovary Offers Potential for Cancer Patients' Fertility

Artificial Ovary Offers Potential for Cancer Patients' Fertility

Because our current anti-cancer standbys - chemotherapy and radiotherapy - often damage the stash of follicles present in each woman's ovaries since birth, those who want to conceive after treatment have two options: have a handful of these cell clusters harvested beforehand then turn to IVF when they reach remission, or have the entire ovary harvested then re-implanted.

"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". This means that when frozen tissue is thawed and put back, there is a risk the disease will take hold again. This is the reason why the ovarian tissue freezing in not an option for patients with oravian cancer, or leukemia.

Susanne Pors and others at the Rigshospitalet in Copenhagen accept artificial ovaries could be a more secure alternative. This second method is seldom used because of the fear that the removed ovarian tissues might contain cancer cells which may be reintroduced into the patient's body when the tissues are reimplanted. Brison, who was not involved in the study, noted that the use of decellularized scaffolds is common in regenerative medicine, where tissues derived from stem cells are transplanted back into patients. In that time, blood vessels had begun to grow around the ovary to keep it nourished in the animal. "It's an important step along the road".

Dr. Richard Anderson, a professor and head of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Edinburgh, said in a statement that an artificial ovary capable of supporting development of the follicle and the egg within it "would be very valuable scientifically" in that it would help scientists "develop new tests and perhaps treatments for infertility".

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The latter method is considered unsafe, however, because scientists think the ovarian tissue might contain malignant cells, and thus, reintroduce cancer to the woman's body after being treated. "There have been certain cancers where we can't use this procedure because of this concern", he said.

"It's an exciting development".

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

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