Researchers in Denmark have made the first steps towards creating an "artificial" ovary in what could improve fertility preservation treatments. The early-stage follicles were isolated from patients having ovarian tissue frozen for fertility preservation ahead of other medical treatments likely to compromise ovarian function. They then engineered "scaffold" with hundreds of ovarian follicles and planted this artificial ovary into mice.
Scientists say that human trials will start no earlier than 5-10 years.
In this case, the scientists from the Rigshospitalet fertility center in Copenhagen were able to create an artificial ovary that could be used to grow immature egg cells into a form that could then later be transplanted back into the woman. One of the options of preserving fertility is freezing the eggs after their removal prior to cancer therapy. They removed cancer cells from the ovarian tissue, leaving behind a "scaffold" made up of proteins and collagen, BBC News reported.
Stuart Lavery, consultant gynaecologist at Hammersmith Hospital, said that if this is shown to be effective, it offers huge advantages over IVF and egg freezing. This new study attempts to use the ovarian tissues outside of the body in the labs rather than risk reintroducing the tissues along with the cancer. The doctors at that point seeded this platform with many human follicles, the small sacs that hold initial-stage eggs.More news: Everton make audacious move for World Cup star
Though this approach might work, he concluded that "it is not possible to tell until the data from this research group have been peer-reviewed by the scientific community and published in a scientific journal".
The American Cancer Society reported that cancer treatments can drastically impact a woman's ability to conceive.
Experts expect the treatment to be offered to women within three years.
For most patients, the process is said to be safe, yet certain tumors, for example, ovarian or leukemia, can attack the ovarian tissue as well.
Dr. Richard Anderson, a professor and head of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Edinburgh, said in a statement that an artificial ovary capable of supporting development of the follicle and the egg within it "would be very valuable scientifically" in that it would help scientists "develop new tests and perhaps treatments for infertility".