Amsterdam, The Netherlands: A new technique for transplanting the ovaries of women who have lost their fertility as a result of cancer treatment was outlined to the 25th annual conference of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology today (Monday 29 June). Dr. Pascal Piver, manager of the IVF Centre at Limoges University Hospital, Limoges, France, described a new, two-step method of ovarian transplant that has produced excellent results in women whose ovaries have been frozen because of cancer treatment. He said that his team's technique worked to restore ovarian function quickly and already one patient from his clinic had had a baby and another had become pregnant.
"On June 22, a baby girl was born to a mother who had been menopausal for two years as a result of treatment for sickle cell anaemia. After transplanting her own ovarian tissue she started ovulating in four months and became pregnant naturally six months after transplantation. Both mother and baby are doing well", he said.
Dr. Piver and colleagues set out to tackle one of the biggest problems of ovarian transplantation: the low response to stimulation caused by insufficient vascularisation of the transplanted tissue.
"In order for a woman to become pregnant, the ovaries need to be responsive to the action of hormones that cause them to release eggs each month," he explained. "If the blood supply to the ovaries is insufficient, this will not happen, even though the transplant may look as though it has been successful."
To overcome this problem they carried out a two-stage procedure, first grafting small pieces of the frozen ovarian tissue in the ovarian and peritoneal areas three days before the real transplant. The first graft encourages the growth of blood vessels and paves the way for the ovary to become fully functioning in a shorter time scale than would be possible if all the tissue were to be transplanted at the same time.
|Contact: Mary Rice|
European Society for Human Reproduction and Embryology