She and her colleagues have been collaborating for the past six years with Dr Sherman Silber, from St Luke's Hospital, in St Louis, Missouri (USA), who has performed a number of successful ovarian transplants in women, either because they were about to be treated for cancer or because they had not yet found the right partner in life. Their future collaborative research will include investigating whether it is possible for a woman to have a transplant using an ovary that is not her own and with minimal drugs to suppress the body's natural immune response to what it perceives as a "foreign" body. They are also looking at culturing follicles in ovarian tissue in the laboratory in order to obtain mature eggs that can be used for IVF.
In the meantime, the researchers believe it is very important for doctors and patients to know that women have options when faced with cancer treatment that could destroy their fertility. "We have been successful in getting frozen ovaries to function completely normally after thawing and transplantation," said Dr Kagawa. "So this should no longer be considered an 'experimental' procedure. Ovarian transplantation is the proper and necessary accompaniment to otherwise sterilising treatment for young cancer patients. We must not neglect to freeze and save at least one of their ovaries before cancer treatment."
|Contact: Emma Mason|
European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology