Artificial Ovaries Bring New Hopes For Young Cancer Patients

Pearl Mccarthy
July 5, 2018

It is hoped that this artificial ovary could be implanted back into women and restore their fertility after cancer treatment. It could take five to 10 years of work before artificial ovaries are ready for human trials, she added.

An alternative involves removing ovarian tissue before treatment, freezing it, and returning it to the body after.

The group in Copenhagen demonstrated that a lab-made ovary could sustain life of human eggs for a considerable length of time at once, raising expectations that the approach would someday be able to aid women in starting families of their own after undergoing hard procedures, for example, radiotherapy and chemotherapy.

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

Implanted artificial ovaries might also help women with conditions such as multiple sclerosis and the blood disorder beta thalassaemia, which can require aggressive fertility-harming therapies, along with patients who go through an early menopause. The team used a chemical process to strip the ovarian tissues' cells of DNA and other features which could contain the faulty instructions for cancer cells' unconstrained growth. Such treatments increase the risk of infertility as they can stop the ovaries from working properly.

A "bio-engineered" ovary would reduce this risk, the research team from Rigshospitalet said. To compensate for the effects of treatment of cancer patient, as a rule, transplanted previously frozen ovarian tissue.

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Normally, the procedure is safe for most women, however, when it comes to certain types of cancer, like ovarian or leukemia, the ovarian tissue can be invalidated.

Dr Susanne Pors, who presented the research, said: "This is the first time that isolated human follicles have survived in a decellularised human scaffold and, as a proof-of-concept, it could offer a new strategy in fertility preservation without risk of malignant cell recurrence".

Daniel Brison, scientific director of the Department of Reproductive Medicine at the University of Manchester, said the new research is "a very interesting and novel" approach to fertility preservation.

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 could give rise to a problem in itself, however, as the surrounding ovarian cells left behind might be required for the ovary to function fully", Brison noted.

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