The goal is to make human eggs, ovarian tissue, blood vessels, even whole organs available when needed.
To get there, researchers are directly comparing slow-freezing techniques, used successfully for decades to preserve sperm and embryos, to a more rapid method of cryopreservation that transforms tissues into durable glass-like structures.
Phase I trials under way at the Medical College of Georgia are comparing the two approaches in human ovarian tissue and eggs, or oocytes, as well as human-like cow ovarian tissue and eggs.
They start with reproductive tissues because young women with cancer produce a compelling need and are a good model for other tissues and organs.
“What we tell patients is that right now the standard of care for people who are going through cancer therapy is to use egg donors later on,” says Dr. Adelina M. Emmi, reproductive endocrinologist and medical director of MCG Reproductive Laboratories of Augusta.
Treatment for leukemia and cervical, ovarian, breast or other cancers often leaves women infertile because systemic chemotherapy and more focused radiation therapy, designed to kill rapidly spreading cancer cells, also can destroy dynamic reproductive tissue.
“I don’t think when you are faced with the reality that you may die, your fertility is the most important thing you are thinking or talking about, but there are a lot of women interested in talking about it,” says Dr. Emmi. She hopes her work with Dr. Ying C. Song, cryobiologist, will one day give her more to say.
They are collecting ovarian tissue from volunteers age 16 to 37 who need the tissue taken for some reason other than cancer, such as a hysterectomy for benign disease, says Dr. Song, MCG clinical associate professor at MCG and director of research for Augusta-based Xytex Research/Xytex International. Collaborators at the University of Texas Health Science Center and M.D. Anderson Cancer Center are doing th
Source:Medical College of Georgia