Sorting out fertility after childhood cancer

As success rates in treating childhood cancers have improved, greater emphasis is being placed on quality of life issues following successful treatment. Many cancer treatments can lead to infertility, but there are few methods to preserve the fertility of children who have not entered puberty.

Spermatogonial stem cells (SSCs), which produce sperm cells, are present prior to the start of puberty.

In theory, SSCs could be removed via biopsy prior to the start of treatment and then retransplanted following remission; however, there is a potential risk of reintroducing malignant material during transplantation.

To overcome this hurdle, Kyle Orwig and colleagues at the University of Pittsburgh characterized the cell surface markers of human spermatogonia in testicular tissue from organ donors. In this issue of the Journal of Clinical Investigation, Orwig and colleagues report the development of a multi-parameter sorting approach to separate SSCs from cancerous cells. Sorted SSCs exhibited were able to function properly when transplanted into mice, but did not form tumors.

These results suggest that SSC transplantation could be a viable method to preserve fertility in male .

More information: Eliminating malignant contamination from therapeutic human spermatogonial stem cells, J Clin Invest. doi:10.1172/JCI65822

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Cancer stem cells linked to drug resistance

14 hours ago

Most drugs used to treat lung, breast and pancreatic cancers also promote drug-resistance and ultimately spur tumor growth. Researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine have discovered ...

Unraveling the 'black ribbon' around lung cancer

Apr 17, 2014

It's not uncommon these days to find a colored ribbon representing a disease. A pink ribbon is well known to signify breast cancer. But what color ribbon does one think of with lung cancer?

User comments