A team of Danish reproductive biologists has developed a new technique for building a tissue scaffold that mimics a human ovary yet contains no cells. She will present the findings of this latest study today (2nd of July 2018) at the 34th Annual Meeting of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology in Barcelona, Spain.
Danish scientists have developed a new technology that could, theoretically, one day be used as a fertility method for cancer patients whose treatment has made it far more hard to conceive. 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 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. They removed cancer cells from the ovarian tissue, leaving behind a "scaffold" made up of proteins and collagen, BBC News reported. Brison, who was not involved in the study, noted that the use of decellularized scaffolds is common in regenerative medicine, where tissues derived from stem cells are transplanted back into patients.
Their experiments used ovarian tissue removed from women trying to preserve their fertility before cancer treatment.
Stuart Lavery, consultant gynaecologist at Hammersmith Hospital, said "If this is shown to be effective, it offers huge advantages over IVF and egg freezing".
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Follicles, unlike ovarian tissue cells, do not contain cancer, Pors said. The doctors then seeded this scaffold with hundreds of human follicles, the tiny sacs that hold early-stage eggs. "This is early days for the work but it's a very interesting proof of concept", said Nick Macklon, a medical director at London Women's Clinic.
If the testing on humans prove to be successful in the future, these artificial ovaries could be the answer to cancer-surviving women getting pregnant "naturally", as opposed to IVF where an egg is fertilized in a laboratory and then returned to the womb. "But it is certainly a promising approach". Although the risk is quite low, yet women with specific kinds of cancer could not get this treatment.
Experts expect the treatment to be offered to women within three years.
The technique will be of particular benefit to female cancer sufferers whose fertility is often destroyed by radio and chemotherapy, as well as patients with multiple sclerosis and certain blood disorders.