Scientists create ‘artificial ovary’. It could help women after cancer

04 July, 2018, 06:34 | Author: Denise Dawson
  • Women unable to have children have been given new hope ¿ after scientists created an artificial ovary. Stock

Dr Susanne Pors, who led the research, said "a bioengineered ovary would allow the growth and development of reseeded frozen-thawed early stage follicles in a tissue bed which is free of malignancies".

The new research is an attempt to remove the possibility of reintroducing cancer in the original tissue.

Scientists successfully grafted follicles, the precursors to eggs, onto a biological "scaffold" which then grew normally.

It is hoped this engineered structure could be re-implanted into women and restore fertility after they have completed chemotherapy or radiotherapy.

A synthetic organ - made out of the woman's own tissue - could be transplanted into a female left infertile due to medical treatment. Stuart Lavery, consultant gynecologist at Hammersmith Hospital, sees the artificial ovary as an enormous stride forward with distinct advantages over IVF and egg freezing.

'An artificial ovary that supports close to normal development of the follicle and the egg within it would be very valuable scientifically, helping develop new tests and perhaps treatments for infertility, ' said Professor Richard Anderson at the University of Edinburgh, who also was not involved in the study.

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Immature eggs have been shown for the first time in a laboratory to survive on ovarian tissue which was removed from cancer patients before treatment and stripped of cells, researchers said. Pors and her team will reveal more on the research Monday at the annual meeting of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology in Barcelona, Spain. On this, the researchers seeded with hundreds of ovarian follicles, fluid-filled sacs that contains undeveloped eggs. So doctors usually don't offer this option to high-risk patients. This could result in the disease returning back again after the transplant. It can even work for women who go through menopause early.

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".

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

The technique, she added, would be applicable to cancer patients having cryopreserved ovarian tissue transplanted for fertility restoration.

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