Scientists have created an ‘artificial ovary’ to help women left infertile by cancer treatment.
The major breakthrough could allow those who survive the disease to fulfil their dreams of becoming a mum.
According to the scientists, researchers extracted patients’ immature eggs and grew them in biological “scaffolding” created in a lab.
They continued to mature when this structure was inserted into mice, a fertility conference in Barcelona heard.
Scientists expect the same to happen if placed in the human body, with women resuming their monthly periods.
It would be a huge relief for women whose ovaries are damaged by gruelling radiotherapy or chemotherapy.
Speaking about it, study leader Dr Susanne Pors, from Rigshospitalet, in Copenhagen, said that it could offer a new strategy in fertility preservation.
Women can currently have eggs frozen if there is time to harvest them before starting cancer treatment. But this is not possible in prepubertal girls or in cases where women must begin treatment immediately.
An alternative involves removing ovarian tissue before treatment, freezing it, and returning it to the body after.
While this process allows women to resume their periods and to conceive, it risks re-introducing cancerous cells.
The new method removes this risk and could also work for girls, because they are born with a life supply of immature eggs.
The findings were presented at the annual meeting of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology.
Experts expect the treatment to be offered to women within three years....