New hope for infertile women as scientists create artificial ovary

Pregnant

Pregnant

The Danish technique offers a way to avoid this, and potentially improve on IVF and other techniques as more potential eggs could be preserved and would develop naturally if they can be reimplanted.

Removal of these cells left a "scaffold" of the original tissue.

When a woman is diagnosed with cancer, one of the most important things she has to consider is how best to preserve her fertility, as treatments will greatly damage it.

Young girls who have not undergone puberty can be rendered sterile before their ovaries can even produce eggs. However, if there is a risk of cancerous cells remaining in preserved tissue, re-implantation could be deemed to be too risky.

The problem with the latter option, which the American Society of Reproductive Medicine considers "experimental", is that the ovarian tissue removed could contain malignant cells and therefore, once it is implanted, it could re-introduce cancer to the body.

Researchers from the Rigshospitalet in Copenhagen, Denmark, report today that they have for the first time isolated and grown human follicles to a point of "biofunctionality" on a bioengineered ovarian scaffold made of "decellularised" ovarian tissue.


The framework provides an environment for the patient's ovarian early-stage follicles - which can go on to generate hundreds of eggs - to grow.

Dr. Susanne Pors, a co-author of the study and postdoctoral fellow in the Laboratory of Reproductive Biology at the University Hospital of Copenhagen Rigshospitalet, will present the research Monday at the 34th Annual Meeting of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology in Barcelona, Spain.

Professor Macklon said that for this technique to be used in humans, its safety will have to be shown, and that it actually works in humans.

This artificial ovary was then transplanted into mice, where it was able to support the survival and growth of the ovarian cells. When she is ready for pregnancy, she can opt for in vitro fertilization methods, they explain. It would most expectantly take about five to ten years of rigorous work before the artificial ovaries get completely prepared for human use. But scientists said using the original frozen tissue runs the risk of the cancer returning - this risk is high for patients with leukaemia and cancers originating in the ovary.

This is perhaps the only treatment for preserving fertility in women. But Natalie Smith, a trustee of the non-profit organisation Surrogacy UK, told ESHRE that the average payment was between £10,000 and £15,000.

United Kingdom couples are spending up to £60,000 to have babies through surrogate mothers in the United Kingdom, the conference heard.

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