Scientists create ‘artificial ovary’. It could help women after cancer

Scientists create ‘artificial ovary’. It could help women after cancer

Artificial ovaries bring new hopes for young cancer patients, as a team of Danish researchers pointing at the novel treatment that they hope one day will be for such patients who can not conceive naturally. The researchers took early-stage follicles from women who were having their ovarian tissue frozen in order to preserve their fertility.

Scientists successfully grafted follicles, the precursors to eggs, onto a biological "scaffold" which then grew normally.

There are also implanted artificial ovaries, that can help women with a diagnosis, such as multiple sclerosis or with the blood disorder beta thalassemia, which usually require therapies which are aggressive and which can harm fertility.

In developing a bioengineered ovary without human cells, the team believe this would remove any chances of the cancer returning.

The team discovered that a laboratory-made ovary can keep eggs of humans alive for several weeks.

"This is an extremely important advance in the field of fertility preservation", said Adam Balen, professor of reproductive medicine and surgery at Seacroft Hospital, Leeds, Independent reported.

This second option is used less often than the first due to concerns that the ovarian tissue that is removed before treatment might contain malignant cells and, when it's implanted, cancer could be reintroduced into a woman's body.

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Follicles, unlike ovarian tissue cells, do not contain cancer, Pors said.

Speaking about it, study leader Dr Susanne Pors, from Rigshospitalet, in Copenhagen, said that it could offer a new strategy in fertility preservation. "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 left a decellularized scaffold consisting of proteins and collagen.

This artificial ovary was then transplanted into mice, where it was able to support the survival and growth of the ovarian cells.

The American Cancer Society reported that cancer treatments can drastically impact a woman's ability to conceive.

For most patients the procedure is safe, but certain cancers, such as ovarian or leukaemia, can invade the ovarian tissue itself. Renewed hormonal function occurred in 95% of these women, and more than 100 children have been conceived after the tissue transfers.

The development, which could be available within three years, means women with malfunctioning ovaries can look forward to getting pregnant naturally.

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