Artificial Ovaries to Help Infertile Women

The study promises hope for infertile women

The study promises hope for infertile women

"It could take five to 10 years of work before artificial ovaries are ready for human trials". The treatment of such diseases requires extensive therapies which are seen to harm the fertility quotient in women.

The fertility-affecting therapies could usually leave the ovaries damaged and make women infertile for the rest of the life.

Hoping to provide a better option, Dr Pors and her colleagues started tinkering with ways to bioengineer a type of ovarian tissue that is guaranteed to be free of cancerous cells but still maintains the organ's functionality. That's for a number of reasons (including the obvious reality that mice are very different mammals with different biologies from human beings); for instance, mice used as test subjects may all come from the same gene pool, potentially skewing results.

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.

A woman can opt to remove and freeze her eggs and then attempt in-vitro fertilization at a later stage or she can remove the ovarian tissue before treatment, have it frozen and then re-implant it once she has finished treatment, CNN noted.

Scientists were then able to grow the ovarian follicles on this engineered scaffold of ovarian tissue.

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The Danish team took the immature egg cells showed that they could survive on a structure made from stripping ovarian tissue of all its cells, leaving behind only its extracellular matrix.

He added that the new technique transplants only the eggs and surrounding cells of the follicle (seeded into a matrix) back into the uterus. 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.

If the testing on humans prove to be successful in the future, these artificial ovaries could be the answer to cancer-surviving women getting pregnant "naturally", as opposed to IVF where an egg is fertilized in a laboratory and then returned to the womb.

The approach has been garnering praise from the scientific community, but more research is needed. In the end, it could restore the woman's ability to conceive children.

For most patients the procedure is safe, but certain cancers, such as ovarian or leukaemia, can invade the ovarian tissue itself. "But it will be many years before we can put this into a woman".

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