Monday, 24 September, 2018

Artificial ovary fertility treatment developed by scientists

An artificial ovary for fertility preservation without the risk of reintroducing malignancy Artificial human ovaries created for first time in major breakthrough for infertile women
Gustavo Carr | 05 July, 2018, 03:31

Treatments, such as chemotherapy and radiotherapy often damage the ovaries and leave women infertile.

He said the technique was "likely to develop into something that will be potentially useful", but said further research was needed to prove it will work in humans. Therefore, the option to freeze ovarian tissue is hardly offered to patients with high-risk.

Scientists were then able to grow the ovarian follicles on this engineered scaffold of ovarian tissue.

The breakthrough, summarized in a presentation by lead researcher Dr Susanne Pors at the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology in Barcelona, could pave the way for an approach that restores fertility in female cancer survivors without risk of cancer recurrence.

"If this is shown to be effective, it offers huge advantages over IVF [In vitro fertilisation] and egg freezing".

However, there is a small chance that grafted ovarian tissue could reintroduce cancer cells. 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.

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Women who have cancer, will probably get the ovarian tissue removed and frozen before getting to the stage where they need to do the treatments which will harm their fertility. Pors says that the hospital has around 100 referrals a year, estimating that it represents around 80% of patients who could benefit from this type of treatment. Next, early stage follicles are thawed and reintroduced into the scaffold in the lab. "There have been certain cancers where we can't use this procedure because of this concern", he said. This scaffold she explained originates from the woman's own tissues or from donated tissues. Pors and her co-authors concluded, "This is the first time that isolated human follicles have survived in a decellularized human scaffold". "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 artificial ovary was then transplanted into mice, where it was able to support the survival and growth of the ovarian cells.

About 2% of women of reproductive age who have cancer and go through treatment are at risk of losing their ovarian function - and thus their fertility.

This is perhaps the only treatment for preserving fertility in women.

Most cases of fertility preservation where ovarian tissue is frozen are performed ahead of cancer treatment.