Women cancer patients may soon be able to preserve their fertility whilst undergoing treatment for their illness, according to research presented at the annual meeting of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) last week. A team of scientists based at the Virginia Medical School, Norfolk, Virginia has shown that ovary tissue can be removed from female monkeys and, after transplantation back into the arm, stimulated to produce mature eggs.
Two-thirds of the monkeys in the study had the tissue grafted on to their arms immediately, while tissue from the others was frozen for a year. Seven of the 11 monkeys whose ovaries were not frozen produced mature eggs after hormone stimulation, whereas half of the frozen ovaries produced eggs
In another study, researchers at Cornell University Weill Medical College successfully transplanted a cancer patient's ovarian tissue into her forearm, restoring egg development and hormone production. 'It is very exciting to be able to utilize ovarian tissue in such a simple fashion, said Dr Kutluk Oktay, head of the team. He said that eggs had been retrieved from the woman's arm for IVF, but had not yet achieved a pregnancy.
Speaking at the meeting, ASRM President Jeffrey Chang said: 'This technique could offer young women a way to avoid permanent menopause and have children once their cancer is treated successfully'. Dr Helen Picton, scientific director of the IVF unit at St James' Hospital, Leeds, said UK trials would probably begin within the year.
Sources and References
New fertility treatment for women undergoing cancer therapy
New hope for infertile women
New Hope for infertile women