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Fertility preserved by ovary transplants

1 October 2001
By BioNews
Appeared in BioNews 127

A team of scientists from Leeds and Manchester have shown that ovarian transplants may be successful in preserving the fertility of women who have recovered from cancer. Previously, these women faced becoming infertile because cancer treatments using drugs or radiation could damage their ovaries.

The team, led by Dr Samuel Kim, took ovarian tissue from 18 women with lymphoma, and grafted it into a strain of mice that did not have working immune systems. Tissue from the lymph nodes of the women was grafted into another group of the mice as a control. It was found that the mice that received the ovarian tissue did not develop cancer, while all those that received the lymph tissue did.

The research, which is published in the journal Human Reproduction, indicates that preserving ovarian tissue from cancer patients before treatment, and storing this for later transplant is safe, because the ovarian tissue did not cause cancer to develop. Dr Kim warned, however, that the experiment should not be taken as a guarantee of absolute safety as the naturally short lifespan of the mice prevented long-term follow-ups.

Meanwhile, another research project has shown that ovarian tissue transplanted into the arm of women before cancer treatment may prevent premature menopause in younger women and perhaps also preserve fertility. Dr Kutluk Oktay and colleagues from Cornell University, US, transplanted ovarian tissue to the arms of two women, one with cervical cancer and the other with benign ovarian cysts.

Hormone production continued in both of the women, although the cancer sufferer did not continue to ovulate naturally but did so after the help of drugs. The other woman produced eggs and underwent menstruation six months after the transplant. The researchers now hope to discover whether this technique in tandem with IVF might help to preserve fertility in women needing treatment for cancer and other conditions.

Ovarian tissue implanted in arms
Yahoo Daily News |  25 September 2001
Ovarian tissue transplant may preserve fertility
Reuters Health |  25 September 2001
Ovary transplant safety fears eased
BBC News Online |  27 September 2001
The arm as incubator
ABC News |  26 September 2001
24 September 2012 - by Ruth Retassie 
Two women in Sweden received uterus transplants from their mothers, with hopes it will allow them to conceive children of their own...
17 November 2008 - by Adam Fletcher 
A 39-year old woman has become the first to give birth following a whole ovary transplant. Susanne Butscher received an intact ovary from her fertile twin sister last year, during a landmark operation carried out by Dr Sherman Silber of the Infertility Centre of St Louis...
27 September 2004 - by Dr Jess Buxton 
This week, BioNews reports on the world's first baby born following a transplant of frozen, thawed ovary tissue. This is the first success for a technique that promises to benefit thousands of women who would otherwise lose their fertility forever. Ouarda Touriat, who underwent lifesaving cancer treatment that left her...
25 September 2004 - by BioNews 
The first woman in the world to become pregnant following a transplant of her own frozen, thawed ovarian tissue has given birth to a healthy baby girl. In 1997, Ouarda Touirat, now aged 32, had parts of her ovaries removed before beginning treatment for Hodgkin's lymphoma that would leave her...
29 June 2004 - by BioNews 
BioNews reporting from the ESHRE conference, Berlin: Danish researchers have reported that they are on the verge of producing a pregnancy from frozen-thawed human ovarian tissue, while in Belgium it transpires that a woman is already 25 weeks pregnant following similar treatment - the first time this treatment has ever led...
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