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Protective strategy shields primate ovaries from radiation-therapy-induced damage
Date:2/22/2011

om radiation-induced cell death.

In the final experiment, radiation was delivered directly to the ovaries of three female monkeys that had been pretreated with FTY720. A control group of three underwent a sham radiation treatment after receiving an inert infusion. Both groups resumed normal menstrual cycles, were successfully mated, and all have delivered offspring that appear normal and healthy. Two of the three radioprotected females have become pregnant a second time and delivered two more healthy offspring. Because female monkeys without normal ovarian function will not mate, there was no mating test of irradiation without FTY720 protection, since those animals would have complete ovarian destruction.

"This first generation of offspring born to FTY720-protected mothers have been assessed anatomically and behaviorally, as well as with the most sensitive assay we have for propagated genetic damage, and everything looks fine," says Tilly. "They are now about 2 years old and approaching sexual maturation, so we want to make sure they are reproductively normal and that the second-generation offspring will also be normal."

Tilly stresses, "The damage that anticancer treatments inflict on women's ovaries not only destroys their fertility, it also exposes them to the health risks of premature ovarian failure. The animals in this study have maintained ovarian function they are still having normal menstrual cycles several years after they were treated, which is critical. There are a handful of approaches out there that might give cancer patients a shot at preserving fertility, but this is currently the only option on the table for preventing premature menopause."

The current study, Tilly adds, is also an illustration of the power of collaboration. "This work could not have been done without the vast experience in primate ovarian biology of Mary Zelinski and her team at OHSU. We brought the science developed from more than
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Contact: Sue McGreevey
smcgreevey@partners.org
617-724-2764
Massachusetts General Hospital
Source:Eurekalert

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