If researchers were able to successfully construct an artificial ovary that could allow cancer patients to preserve their fertility, they would open up a door of possibilities when it comes to fertility preservation.
"The artificial ovary will consist of a scaffold (originating from the woman's own tissue or from donated tissue) combined with her own follicles", Pors explained to CNN. This scaffold was then seeded with numerous human follicles, which are tiny sacs holding early-stage eggs.
Cancer treatments such as chemotherapy and radiotherapy, can damage the ovaries and leave women infertile.
The chemical process left a "decellularized scaffold" made up of proteins and collagens, the normal material that connect cells.
"This is an extremely important advance in the field of fertility preservation", said Adam Balen, professor of reproductive medicine and surgery at Seacroft Hospital, Leeds, Independent reported.
Scientists in Rigshospitalet in Copenhagen, Denmark, are now developing artificial ovaries which will give women, who have become infertile after receiving chemotherapy to treat cancer for extensive periods of time, a chance to conceive naturally.
Immature eggs have been shown for the first time in a laboratory to survive on ovarian tissue which was removed from cancer patients before treatment and stripped of cells, researchers said. Next, early stage follicles are thawed and reintroduced into the scaffold in the lab. In these conditions, the solution is transplantation of a tissue of the ovary. The second method is to remove part of the ovarian tissues before commencement of cancer therapy and freezing it. When they have the all-clear, the tissue is put back and the women can go on to have babies naturally.
He said the technique was "likely to develop into something that will be potentially useful", but said further research was needed to prove it will work in humans. In the end, it could restore the woman's ability to conceive children.
The technique, she added, would be applicable to cancer patients having cryopreserved ovarian tissue transplanted for fertility restoration.
"This is the first proof that we can actually support these egg cells". Renewed hormonal function occurred in 95% of these women, and more than 100 children have been conceived after the tissue transfers. "It could take five to 10 years of work before artificial ovaries are ready for human trials".
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