Scientists developed artificial ovary for fertility treatment
Scientists have taken early steps towards developing an artificial ovary that could lead to improved fertility preservation treatments.
Danish scientists are in the early stages of developing developing an artificial ovary that could lead to improved fertility preservation treatments, BBC reports.
They removed parts of the patient’s ovary and altered them before chemotherapy. The aim is this tissue to be transplanted later back to the woman when she wants to conceive.
Experts say the work is "exciting" but human testing is still needed.
What treatment is available now
Treatments for cancer, such as chemotherapy and radiotherapy, can often damage the ovaries and leave women infertile.
One way women can preserve their chances of conceiving is with an ovarian tissue transplant, where all or part of the ovary is removed and frozen before it is damaged so that it can be used at a later date. This is the only fertility preservation treatment available for girls who have not started ovulating.
But there are cases although the risk is very slow, when the ovarian tissue contains cancerous cells. Thus women with certain forms of cancer, such as leukaemia and those originating in the womb, are unlikely to be offered the transplant.
The new treatment
Scientists from the Rigshospitalet in Copenhagen, Denmark, took ovarian follicles and ovarian tissue from patients before the start of the cancer treatment. They removed the cancerous cells from the ovarian tissue, leaving behind a "scaffold" made up of proteins and collagen. At the second stage the team grew the ovarian follicles on this engineered scaffold of ovarian tissue.
Then this artificial ovary was transplanted into mice, where it was able to support the survival and growth of the ovarian cells.
Results and perspective
The treatment will need to be tested in humans first - a development expected to take place in the next three to four years.
The research is being presented at the annual meeting of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology.