Novel Approaches to Restore Fertility in Cancer Patients
Human follicle grown in the lab.
The oocyte and surrounding somatic cells are health and developing and behaving similar to follicles in vivo
. Original work was published in: Xu, Barrett et al. (2009) In vitro grown human ovarian follicles from cancer patients support oocyte growth.
Human Reproduction, 24:2531. Image was captured on a LSM 510 Zeiss confocal at Northwestern University’s Cell Imaging Facility.
Effective cancer therapies offer patients longer survival times. Unfortunately, common therapies such as chemotherapy are toxic to immature eggs that are housed in round structures in the ovary known as follicles. Girls and young women who receive life-saving cancer therapies may diminish or lose their ability to conceive children in the future. Infertility in female cancer patients may also reduce their quality of life. Doctors can offer few options to treat their infertility using current methods. For example, pre-pubescent girls are not mature enough to undergo ovarian hormone stimulation to collect eggs that can be frozen for later use, and the procedure is dangerous for older women with estrogen-positive breast cancer. New approaches are needed to restore fertility in female cancer survivors.
The Common Fund’s Interdisciplinary Research program supports an Oncofertility Consortium that is developing new technologies to restore fertility in female cancer patients who may become infertile because of treatment. The investigators have engineered a novel, three-dimensional cell culture system that allows human follicles containing immature eggs to grow into mature follicles and eggs that could then be used in fertility treatments. Girls and young women can donate ovarian tissue containing the immature follicles prior to beginning cancer treatment. The follicles can be grown into mature eggs in vitro and used to restore fertility when the time is right to conceive.
Xu M, Barrett SL, West-Farrell E, Kondapalli LA, Kiesewetter SE, Shea LD, Woodruff TK. In vitro grown human ovarian follicles from cancer patients support oocyte growth. Hum. Reprod. 2009 Oct;24(10):2531-40. Epub 2009 Jul 13. Link: http://humrep.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/content/full/24/10/2531
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