Artificial ovary fertility treatment developed by scientists

An artificial ovary for fertility preservation without the risk of reintroducing malignancy

"Artificial" human ovaries have been created for the first time in a breakthrough that promises hope for infertile women.

But they said it might have advantages over other fertility treatments.

Women who undergo cancer diagnosis and treatment would now be able to get their ovaries removed and frozen before they start the treatment.

However, this leaves the slight chance that the cancer had spread into the ovary and hence, transplanting ovaries containing cancerous cells back into the patient's body may lead to the return of the disease.

Hence, to combat such a risk completely, the researchers from the Rigshospitalet in Copenhagen made a decision to develop artificial ovaries for patients who were due to undergo cancer treatment. 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.

Their experiments used ovarian tissue removed from women trying to preserve their fertility before cancer treatment.

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Currently, women will have their eggs frozen before chemotherapy or radiotherapy, which can destroy viability of the cells. They then implanted ovarian follicles or immature egg cells on the artificially engineered scaffold of ovarian tissue. This left a bare tissue "scaffold" made largely of collagen, the protein that gives skin its strength.

The team found that the ovarian follicles were able to survive on the decellularised scaffold, marking a first-time achievement and a step towards fertility preservation for women with cancer. This artificial ovary was then transplanted into mice, where the ovarian cells survived and grew.

The approach has been garnering praise from the scientific community, but more research is needed.

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.

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. Which were collected from cancer patients.

Dr. Richard Anderson, a professor and head of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Edinburgh, said in a statement that an artificial ovary capable of supporting development of the follicle and the egg within it "would be very valuable scientifically" in that it would help scientists "develop new tests and perhaps treatments for infertility".

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