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Fertility hope for child cancer patients

9 July 2007
Appeared in BioNews 415

Israeli scientists are reported to have extracted, matured and frozen eggs from young girls affected by cancer. Although it is too early to tell whether they are viable, it is hoped that the frozen eggs will one day offer young cancer patients the chance to have a genetically related child.

Although childhood cancer has a relatively high cure rate - between 70 and 90 per cent - aggressive chemotherapy, which is often needed, can cause infertility later in life. Previously it was believed that it was only possible to harvest eggs from women who had undergone puberty. The new research, however, could offer hope to women who developed cancer at a young age.

The research involved removing tissue from girls as young as five and isolating the immature eggs. The eggs were then cultured to maturity in a Petri dish, until they resembled those of a 20 year old women. The team are expecting to wait several years until they discover whether the frozen eggs can lead to viable pregnancies. One of the doctors involved in the research, Dr Ariel Revel, told the Guardian: 'No eggs have yet been thawed, so we do not know whether pregnancies will result. But we are encouraged by our results so far, particularly the young ages of the patients from which we have been able to collect eggs. We are hopeful that the mature eggs can offer these girls a realistic possibility of preserving their fertility'.

The Teenage Cancer Trust and some fertility experts, have tentatively welcomed the research. Gillian Lockwood, of Midlands Fertility Services told the Telegraph: 'If it works it's good news. But this raises ethical issues, The parents will be making the decision, and it may be they are keen to have grandchildren, and I don't know if a young girl will appreciate all of the arguments.' Josephine Quintavalle, of Comment on Reproductive Ethics has expressed doubts about the research, she told the BBC: 'I don't think this is the first priority for five year olds. Any intervention for a child going through cancer treatment is an added burden. I feel uncomfortable about this development'.

Cancer girl, five, given chance of motherhood
The Daily Telegraph |  2 July 2007
Five-year-old's frozen eggs give fertility hope to child cancer victims
The Guardian |  2 July 2007
IVF hope for child cancer cases
BBC News Online |  2 July 2007
26 November 2012 - by Dr Rosie Morley 
An Argentinian woman has given birth to twins after IVF treatment using eggs that had been frozen for 12 years...
6 June 2011 - by Dr Charlotte Maden 
British scientists have grown mature eggs from undeveloped ones in the laboratory and are currently seeking permission to fertilise them. The new research gives hope to young girls undergoing treatment for cancer that may leave them infertile...
21 January 2008 - by Ailsa Stevens 
A report backed by cancer and fertility experts from Royal Colleges of Physicians, Radiologists, and Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, has highlighted that many patients left infertile by cancer treatment are being denied the NHS fertility treatments promised to them in national guidelines. The group said that a national...
24 April 2007 - by MacKenna Roberts 
Advances in egg freezing have leapt from the lab to the public, particularly in the US where clinics are unregulated, to offer assisted reproduction using frozen eggs despite the long-term effects being little known, according to the journal Science. A news article evaluated the reliability and significance...
11 September 2006 - by Melanie Davies 
There is a steady and continuing trend towards later childbearing in all Western European countries. In England and Wales, the fertility rate for women in their thirties has now overtaken that for younger women. Over the last three decades, the average age of women having their first baby has risen...
15 September 2005 - by BioNews 
Israeli scientists have obtained early sheep embryos after transplanting whole ovaries that had been frozen and thawed. The researchers, based at the Institute of Animal Science, Agriculture Research Organisation, Bet Dagan, report that the ovaries were still working normally three years after the transplant. They say their findings, published in...
1 July 2005 - by BioNews 
An Israeli woman has given birth to a healthy baby girl after undergoing an ovarian tissue transplant, following cancer treatment that left her infertile. The 28-year-old woman, treated at the Sheba Medical Center in Tel Hashomer, is only the second patient in the world to have given birth after...
4 May 2005 - by BioNews 
A British woman is expecting the country's first 'frozen egg' twins, it was revealed last week. The 36-year-old woman is said to be five months pregnant, following the use of fertility treatments that included the freezing of one of her eggs. Doctors at the West Midlands-based Midland Fertility Services...
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