Artificial ovary implanted in mouse could help women who’ve gone through chemo
News on the fertility front may offer hope in the future for women who have to undergo chemotherapy or radiation during cancer treatment. Per the Guardian, scientists have created an artificial ovary out of human tissue and eggs, and that ovary’s performance on tests is encouraging. Susanne Pors, a co-author of the study, tells CNN the ovary was made by creating a bare-bones “scaffold” out of donated ovarian tissue stripped of all of its cells (including cancerous ones); hundreds of tiny human egg sacs, or follicles, were implanted onto the scaffold. That ovary was then implanted into a mouse, and about 25% of the follicles endured for at least three weeks, while nourishing blood vessels grew around the ovary. Pors and her team will reveal more on the research Monday at the annual meeting of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology in Barcelona, Spain.
Up to this point, cancer patients have been able to freeze their eggs before treatment—though that can affect the cells’ viability, per the Independent—or a patient’s ovarian tissue can be removed before cancer treatment, frozen, then reintroduced into her body after treatment is over. The problem, however, is that cancerous cells may still linger in the tissue, which means it puts the patient at risk of seeing her cancer return. Egg follicles, however, have a membrane that doesn’t allow cancer to get in, Pors notes. Such an artificial ovary also has the potential to be a boon for women who’ve gone through early menopause or who have other diseases that wreak havoc on fertility. Pors tells the Guardian that although this news is promising, it could still be up to another 10 years before human trials are held. (The US fertility rate recently hit a record low.)