Artificial Ovary to Give Women a Chance to Conceive After Chemo

Ovaries are female reproductive organs that are responsible for the production of ova or eggs. Fertility of a woman can be jeopardized when the ovaries do not function normally.

Scientists from the Danish National hospital has created "artificial ovaries" that will help women who have become infertile after chemotherapy, to become pregnant.

The improved ovarian tissues were then transplanted into mice, who were able to support the survival and growth of the ovarian cells.

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The "groundbreaking" experiment was presented at the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology annual meeting in Barcelona on Monday and is due to be published as a study in a peer-reviewed journal.

When a woman is diagnosed with cancer, one of the most important things she has to consider is how best to preserve her fertility, as treatments will greatly damage it. The second technique, commonly referred to as ovarian tissue transfer, involves removing ovarian tissue before treatment, freezing it and reimplanting it after treatment.

And Dr Gillian Lockwood, director of Midland Fertility Services, said the treatment could also prevent cancer patients facing premature menopause because their ovarian cells had been destroyed by chemotherapy. 'With the evidence they've shown, I think there's a reasonable chance it will, ' he said. This is the reason why the ovarian tissue freezing in not an option for patients with oravian cancer, or leukemia. This stored tissue can later be reimplanted into the body after treatment. This new study attempts to use the ovarian tissues outside of the body in the labs rather than risk reintroducing the tissues along with the cancer.

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Follicles, unlike ovarian tissue cells, do not contain cancer, Pors said. In some cases, all or part of the ovary is removed before those cancer treatments and frozen so that it can be used in the future, BBC News reported. The team, headed by Susanne Pors, found that a quarter of the follicles survived for at least three weeks, during which time blood vessels began to grow around and nourish the implanted ovary. "The follicle is formed during fetal life [when no cancer is present] and is surrounded by a basal membrane that does not allow cancer cells to penetrate", she said. The researchers seeded this structural matrix with early-stage follicles. Pors and her co-authors concluded, "This is the first time that isolated human follicles have survived in a decellularized human scaffold".

Researchers are hopeful that this could be a new avenue in fertility prevention and there would be no risk of cancer recurrence with this method.

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