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Studies to find better ways to preserve human eggs, ovarian tissue under way

able. Others are looking for ways to ensure there are no cancer germ cells in salvaged tissue.

If all goes as hoped with this study, the next step will have Drs. Song and Emmi taking ovarian tissue from cancer patients, vitrifying it then, after they are sure it’s cancer-free, re-implanting it when the woman is ready.

A concurrent phase I study is comparing standard cryopreservation to vitrification in eggs. They are using eggs from 60 women age 18-42 that would be discarded because they are not adequate for in vitro fertilization. They also are retrieving and maturing eggs from cow ovaries donated by a local slaughterhouse. Bull sperm will be used to test the viability of cow eggs afterward but human eggs will not be fertilized.

Standard cryopreservation has been tried and largely failed in human eggs, says Dr. Emmi, who believes some version of vitrification likely offers a better option for ovarian tissue and eggs. In fact, many in vitro fertilization programs, including the one she directs at MCG Health System, are moving toward vitrification, which also seems to work faster, better and cheaper in embryos.

They pursue the potential of egg preservation as well to really find out which is the best option: ovarian tissue or pure eggs. Also, a better way to preserve eggs – which last about 24 hours outside the body without preservation – would reduce the cost and logistical issues of coordinating donor eggs.

“The long-term goal is organ banking,” says Dr. Song, because even though there are insufficient numbers of donors for those on transplant lists today, another piece of the puzzle is developing techniques for growing organs. In fact, he is collaborating with scientists at Yale University and the Georgia Institute of Technology to regenerate blood vessels and pancreatic substitutes, noting studies published in Tissue Engineering and Cell Transplantation.

“Regenerative medicine will help supplement the
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Source:Medical College of Georgia


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