Artificial Ovary Could Help Young Cancer Patients Preserve Fertility

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An "artificial ovary" was made with the help of doctors from human tissue and eggs. Therefore, women are advised to take measures to preserve their fertility before undergoing treatment.

It is hoped that this artificial ovary could be implanted back into women and restore their fertility after cancer treatment. 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 scientists at the Rigshospitalet in Copenhagen, Denmark stripped the ovarian tissue of cells. She will present the findings of this latest study today (2nd of July 2018) at the 34th Annual Meeting of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology in Barcelona, Spain.

Prepubertal girls or women who need urgent treatment before they produce eggs, rely on ovarian tissue, which contains thousands of immature eggs in fluid-filled sacs called follicles, to be preserved instead with the aim of transplanting it after treatment.

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Speaking about it, study leader Dr Susanne Pors, from Rigshospitalet, in Copenhagen, said that it could offer a new strategy in fertility preservation.

Most chemotherapy drugs can damage a woman's eggs, affecting her fertility. They utilised chemicals and removed the cancerous cells from the ovarian tissue which later left behind a tissue called "scaffold" made of collagen and protein.

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. "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. This could result in the disease returning back again after the transplant.

The approach has been garnering praise from the scientific community, but more research is needed. This could be the great future in which cancer patients are able to carry babies to term after being through radiotherapy and chemotherapy. "But it will be many years before we can put this into a woman". 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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