Artificial Ovary Fertility Treatment Now Developed By Scientists

Thursday, 05 Jul, 2018

"It could take five to 10 years of work before artificial ovaries are ready for human trials".

There could be another way for women to have children after going through fertility-damaging cancer treatments.

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

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.

The new research is an attempt to remove the possibility of reintroducing cancer in the original tissue.

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. The team showed that the immature eggs and tissue scaffold could reintegrate and survive in this scaffold, and it could then be grafted into a living host - in this case a mouse. Their resulting process begins by harvesting ovarian tissue (the follicles are also taken and frozen) and treating it with a chemical bath until all that remains is the supportive matrix of proteins and collagen.

Daniel Brison, scientific director of the Department of Reproductive Medicine at the University of Manchester, said the new research is "a very interesting and novel" approach to fertility preservation. This scaffold she explained originates from the woman's own tissues or from donated tissues. In English, if the frozen tissue is put back one, then the disease will probably come back.

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

For young female cancer patients wanting to preserve their fertility, ovarian tissue transfer that can restore menstrual cycles and allow the woman to get pregnant "the old-fashioned way" - since hundreds of eggs remain intact within the follicles - would be a huge advantage over freezing a few eggs.

The development achieved by researchers at the Rigshospitalet in Denmark, which could be available within three years, means women with malfunctioning ovaries can look forward to getting pregnant naturally.

But still, the experts say that the experiment is in its initial development stage and human testing will have to be carried out.