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Scientists Discover How Chemo Can Make Women Infertile
Date:9/28/2009

But drug Gleevec counteracted effect in mouse study

MONDAY, Sept. 28 (HealthDay News) -- Italian researchers say they have identified the mechanism by which chemotherapy can rob a woman of her ability to have children.

Intriguingly, the scientists also found that another anti-cancer drug might counteract the negative effects of the chemotherapy drug cisplatin.

The finding, demonstrated in mice and reported in the Sept. 27 online edition of Nature Medicine, raises the hope that there might be a way to protect a woman's fertility while she undergoes treatment for cancer but, the authors stressed, this is still a long way off.

"The extension of these findings to patients and the design of clinical trials is likely to require the development of targeted drug delivery strategies to avoid any potential interference with anti-cancer systemic therapy," explained study author Stefania Gonfloni, of the department of biology at the University of Rome.

"I think it's a great idea. They found a pathway that can be used as a marker to detect which drug would produce cell death as a result of chemotherapy, and they found a repair effect of a drug," said Dr. George Attia, an associate professor of reproductive endocrinology and infertility at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. "[But] it's very basic science research. It's still early."

Because chemotherapy affects the egg cells of the ovary, women often end up with ovarian failure and infertility as a result of cancer treatment.

"We frequently deal with women of childbearing age, and there's a lot of concern about fertility preservation although as women get older, the chemo induces menopause," said Dr. Igor Astsaturov, an assistant professor of medical oncology at Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia. "The standard approach now is egg collection [storing eggs for later use]."

Chemotherapy can also cause genetic def
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