Wednesday, 20 February, 2019


An artificial ovary for fertility preservation without the risk of reintroducing malignancy

It is hoped an engineered structure could be re-implanted into women and restore fertility after they have completed chemotherapy or radiotherapy It is hoped an engineered structure could be re-implanted into women and restore fertility after they have completed chemotherapy or radiotherapy
Patty Aguilar | 05 July, 2018, 03:55

Ovaries are female reproductive organs that are responsible for the production of ova or eggs. Fertility of a woman can be jeopardized when the ovaries do not function normally.

Scientists have taken further steps in creating an artificial ovary that could one day used to help women who have been left infertile after cancer treatment.

"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.

The findings were presented at the annual meeting of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology. These intense therapies damage and destroy the ovarian tissues. One option is to remove and freeze some of her eggs so that after her cancer has been treated and she's ready for a child, she can attempt in-vitro fertilization.

But they said it might have advantages over other fertility treatments.

Ovarian tissue cryopreservation is now an established method of fertility preservation in Denmark. This stored tissue can later be reimplanted into the body after treatment.

What Happens To Fertility During Cancer?

The team developed the scaffold over three-days by using chemicals to strip the ovarian tissue of all of its cells. 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. These women often can not save their ovarian tissue for fertility, because of fear of remaining cancer cells. The follicles that remain said Pors are non-cancerous and this is because they develop during fetal live of a woman. The basement membrane protects the oocytes in the follicles, so cancer cells can't penetrate into them. It contained proteins and collagens that can hold up the cells.

Dr Susanne Pors, who led the research, said "a bioengineered ovary would allow the growth and development of reseeded frozen-thawed early stage follicles in a tissue bed which is free of malignancies".

Next, the researchers experimented with mice and transplanted a decellularized and seeded matrix into the animals. This too helped in the development of the follicles. They also looked at the ability of the scaffolds to support both human and mouse follicles in vivo - by transplanting the scaffolds into mice.

The study is still a proof-of-concept which could potentially pave the way for new methods to preserve fertility to be developed without the risk of cancer reoccurrence.

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