WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. March 26, 2013 A proof-of-concept study suggests the possibility of engineering artificial ovaries in the lab to provide a more natural option for hormone replacement therapy for women. In Biomaterials, a team from Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center's Institute for Regenerative Medicine report that in the laboratory setting, engineered ovaries showed sustained release of the sex hormones estrogen and progesterone.
Although there are medications that can compensate for the loss of female sex hormone production, the drugs are often not recommended for long-term use due to the increased risk of heart disease and breast cancer.
"Our goal is to develop a tissue- or cell-based hormone therapy essentially an artificial ovary to deliver sex hormones in a more natural manner than drugs," said Emmanuel C. Opara, Ph.D., professor of regenerative medicine and senior author. "A bioartificial ovary has the potential to secrete hormones in a natural way based on the body's needs, rather than the patient taking a specific dose of drugs each day."
Ovaries are the female reproductive organs that produce eggs that are fertilized for pregnancy as well as secrete hormones important to bone and cardiovascular health. The loss of ovarian function can be due to surgical removal, chemotherapy and radiation treatments for certain types of cancer, and menopause. The effects of hormone loss can range from hot flashes and vaginal dryness to infertility and increased risk of osteoporosis and heart disease.
"This research project is interesting because it offers hope to replace natural ovarian hormones in women with premature ovarian failure or in women going through menopause," Tamer Yalcinkaya, M.D., associate professor and section head of reproductive medicine at Wake Forest Baptist. "The graft format would bring certain advantages: it would eliminate pharmacokinetic variations of hormones when administered as drugs and
|Contact: Karen Richardson|
Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center