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Male fertility can be restored after cancer treatment, says Pitt team
Date:11/1/2012

PITTSBURGH, Nov. 1, 2012 An injection of banked sperm-producing stem cells can restore fertility to male primates who become sterile due to cancer drug side effects, according to researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and Magee-Womens Research Institute. In their animal study, which was published today in Cell Stem Cell, previously frozen stem cells restored production of sperm that successfully fertilized eggs to produce early embryos.

Some cancer drugs work by destroying rapidly dividing cells. As it is not possible to discriminate between cancer cells and other rapidly dividing cells in the body, the precursor cells involved in making sperm can be inadvertently wiped out leaving the patient infertile, said senior investigator Kyle Orwig, Ph.D., associate professor, Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Medicine, Pitt School of Medicine, and an investigator at Magee-Womens Research Institute.

"Men can bank sperm before they have cancer treatment if they hope to have biological children later in their lives," he said. "But that is not an option for young boys who haven't gone through puberty, can't provide a sperm sample, and are many years away from thinking about having babies."

Even very young boys, though, have spermatogonial stem cells in their testicular tissue that are poised to begin producing sperm during puberty. To see whether it was possible to restore fertility using these cells, Dr. Orwig and his team biopsied the testes of prepubertal and adult male macaque monkeys and cryopreserved the cells from the small samples. The monkeys were then treated with chemotherapy agents known to impair fertility.

A few months after chemotherapy treatment, the team re-introduced each monkey's own spermatogonial stem cells back in to his testes using an ultrasound-guided technique. Sperm production was established from transplanted cells in nine out of 12 adult animals and three out of five prepuber
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Contact: Anita Srikameswaran
srikamav@upmc.edu
412-578-9193
University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences
Source:Eurekalert

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