Early Success in Artificial Ovary Research

Women unable to have children have been given new hope ¿ after scientists created an artificial ovary. Stock

According to BBC News, a team of scientists at Rigshospitalet in Copenhagen has developed a new technique to provide options and reduce the risk for women who have uterine or ovarian cancer.

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. "It is newly constructed, but biological".

A new option for fertility?

Cancer treatments such as chemotherapy and radiotherapy, can damage the ovaries and leave women infertile.

Two methods of fertility preservation are available. The second technique, commonly referred to as ovarian tissue transfer, involves removing ovarian tissue before treatment, freezing it and reimplanting it after treatment.

Women who have cancer, will probably get the ovarian tissue removed and frozen before getting to the stage where they need to do the treatments which will harm their fertility. In the society's published opinion, the risk of reintroducing malignancy is "currently unknown for most types of cancer", although ovarian, leukemia and other blood-borne cancers are known to carry the greatest risk.

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A team of scientists at the Rigshospitalet in Copenhagen, Denmark stripped the ovarian tissue of cells. They then implanted ovarian follicles or immature egg cells on the artificially engineered scaffold of ovarian tissue. Fertility of a woman can be jeopardized when the ovaries do not function normally. 'With the evidence they've shown, I think there's a reasonable chance it will, ' he said. Using a three-day chemical process, the researchers eliminated all cells that could contain cancer from the tissue. "The follicle is formed during fetal life [when no cancer is present] and is surrounded by a basal membrane that does not allow cancer cells to penetrate", she said.

A synthetic organ - made out of the woman's own tissue - could be transplanted into a female left infertile due to medical treatment. On this, the researchers seeded with hundreds of ovarian follicles, fluid-filled sacs that contains undeveloped eggs.

This development occurred in vitro, or outside the body. This supported survival and growth of the early-stage follicles. This could result in the disease returning back again after the transplant.

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

For most patients the procedure is safe, but certain cancers, such as ovarian or leukaemia, can invade the ovarian tissue itself.

The American Cancer Society reported that cancer treatments can drastically impact a woman's ability to conceive. "But it will be many years before we can put this into a woman".

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