For parents of children with cancer, the hopeful news is that pediatric survival rates have steadily improved for decades. Among the bad newstreatments that enable survival often cause infertility.
Boys diagnosed with cancer who have reached puberty currently have an opportunity to preserve their fertility: before undergoing cancer treatment, they may have their semen frozen and preserved in sperm banks. Younger boys, however, do not produce sperm, although their testicular tissue contains young cells that will eventually become sperm.
Now The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia is offering a unique option to those boys: from infants up to younger adolescents, at-risk boys can have a tiny portion of their testis removed and frozen for their potential future use. Researchers are also using part of the tissue to investigate ways to help the immature cells in the testes to develop into useable sperm.
The procedure is experimental. No one knows if it will be effective in humans, but scientists are hopeful that successes seen in animal models will also occur with human tissue. Despite the experimental nature of this work, if offers an option that does not otherwise exist for these patients. Early observations from a new study at Children's Hospital indicate that parents of prepubertal boys are willing to agree to the procedure, and are grateful for the opportunity, even though there is no certainty that the preserved tissue will be useful to their sons in the future.
"Even though there are currently no guarantees of clinical success, families are highly receptive to this option," said pediatric oncologist Jill P. Ginsberg, M.D., of The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, who led a research study published online Oct. 27 in the journal Human Reproduction. One of Ginsberg's collaborators is Ralph L. Brinster, V.M.D., Ph.D., Richard King Mellon professor of Reproductive Physiology at the University of Pennsylvania School o
|Contact: Rachel Salis-Silverman|
Children's Hospital of Philadelphia