‘Exciting’ development of artificial ovaries could preserve fertility

  • ‘Exciting’ development of artificial ovaries could preserve fertility

‘Exciting’ development of artificial ovaries could preserve fertility

Important steps in the development of an artificial ovary have been successfully completed by one of the world's leading groups in fertility preservation.

The artificial ovary would consist of the scaffold, which would come from the woman's own tissue or from donated tissue, combined with her own follicles.

The team in Copenhagen showed that a lab-made ovary could keep human eggs alive for weeks at a time, which is a method that could eventually be used to help women have families after harsh treatments such as chemotherapy or radiotherapy for cancer.

The findings of the study were disclosed through a research paper released during an annual meeting held by the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology which provided more details about the way followed by the associated scientists to create the artificial ovaries.

Scientists in Rigshospitalet in Copenhagen, Denmark, are now developing artificial ovaries which will give women, who have become infertile after receiving chemotherapy to treat cancer for extensive periods of time, a chance to conceive naturally.

At present, there are a couple of methods at her disposal: she could choose to remove and freeze some of her eggs and then, after her treatment, she can opt for in-vitro fertilization. On this, the researchers seeded with hundreds of ovarian follicles, fluid-filled sacs that contains undeveloped eggs. It can even work for women who go through menopause early. So doctors usually don't offer this option to high-risk patients. Brison, who was not involved in the study, noted that the use of decellularized scaffolds is common in regenerative medicine, where tissues derived from stem cells are transplanted back into patients. This could result in the disease returning back again after the transplant.

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. The synthetic organ will be made from a woman's own tissue before being transplanted into her body to tackle infertility. Dr Pors said the risk of recurring malignancy from frozen tissue was "real", especially for patients with leukaemia and ovarian cancers, although the risk from other cancers is much lower.

A review published this year by Pors and her co-authors reported that a total of 318 women worldwide had undergone ovarian tissue transfers, with nine receiving a diagnosis of cancer afterward (in all cases not directly caused by the procedure). Renewed hormonal function occurred in 95% of these women, and more than 100 children have been conceived after the tissue transfers.