Scientists develop new artificial ovary prototype

December 13, 2017, Springer

Belgian researchers have taken important steps towards creating transplantable artificial ovaries. Once successful, these could be of value to women struggling with infertility or cancer patients who cannot conceive after undergoing radiation or chemotherapy. The research team has identified a protein formulation that closely resembles the structure and rigidity of the natural tissue lining a woman's ovaries, says Marie-Madeleine Dolmans of the Université Catholique de Louvain in Belgium, in an article in Springer's Journal of Assisted Reproduction and Genetics.

Through cryopreservation, it is already possible to store a patient's and to transplant it back into her body once her cancer treatment has been completed and she has gone into remission. The technique has already helped 130 mothers who survived cancer to conceive and give birth (NEJM, 2017, Oct 26, Donnez and Dolmans). Such treatment is, however, not advisable for patients who have a risk of malignant cells in their frozen ovarian . In that case, ovarian tissue cannot be re-implanted because of the chances that their cancer could return. Developing a transplantable artificial with isolated follicles from their tissue could therefore offer these women more possibilities for them to conceive.

The first step in the process is to remove and freeze some ovarian tissue before a woman starts . When needed, follicles (producers of hormones such as oestrogen and the precursors of mature female egg cells) are isolated from the ovarian tissue and encapsulated within a scaffold made of that is grafted to the patient. This hopefully restores the patient's hormonal and reproductive functions. In previous studies, Dolmans' research team used a type of filamentous protein around which blood clots form called fibrin to construct the necessary artificial ovary tissue scaffolding or matrixes.

"The ideal is that these matrixes should mimic the structure and physical properties of the human ovary in such a way that it could ideally support the growth of follicles within which the egg cell resides," explains co-author Maria Costanza Chiti.

Dolmans and her team have so far performed tests using mice tissue and follicles. But in this study, the research team turned their attention to the minute characteristics of . Biopsies taken from three women of child-bearing age were analyzed using scanning electron microscopy. The thickness of the layers and characteristics such as the stiffness of the tissue were compared with that of four different concentrations of fibrin.

"This was done to identify the fibrin formulation that best resembles the natural milieu of the human ovary in terms of architecture, porosity and rigidity," says Chiti.

The research team tested different fibrin matrix concentrations. One - which is called F50/T50 - emerged as the combination of choice in terms of ultrastructure and rigidity, as well as the way in which it closely resembles the outer layer of the human ovary.

"These combinations may mimic the physiological environment of human follicles more closely, making them good candidates for the artificial ovary prototype," says Chiti. "Such findings are essential to help us standardize fibrin matrix architecture."

Explore further: Demand for fertility preservation increasing for women

More information: Maria Costanza Chiti et al, A novel fibrin-based artificial ovary prototype resembling human ovarian tissue in terms of architecture and rigidity, Journal of Assisted Reproduction and Genetics (2017). DOI: 10.1007/s10815-017-1091-3

Related Stories

Demand for fertility preservation increasing for women

October 27, 2017
(HealthDay)—The demand for fertility preservation is increasing, and methods to address it include oocyte cryopreservation and ovarian-tissue cryopreservation, according to a review article published online Oct. 25 in the ...

Hormone discovery marks breakthough in understanding fertility

December 12, 2017
Scientists at The University of Nottingham have shown, for the first time, that a naturally occurring hormone plays a vital part in regulating a woman's fertility, a discovery that could lead to better diagnosis and treatment ...

Study prompts rethink of how ovaries develop

February 8, 2013
(Medical Xpress)—New research from the University of Adelaide will rewrite the text books on how an ovary is formed, as well as providing new insights into women's health and fertility.

Woman has baby in UK from ovary frozen in childhood

December 14, 2016
A woman in London has become the first to give birth after having her fertility restored using ovarian tissue frozen before the onset of puberty, doctors said Wednesday.

Researchers use ovarian follicles to preserve fertility

December 3, 2015
Researchers at the University of Michigan have identified a potential new approach to fertility preservation for young cancer patients that addresses concerns about beginning cancer treatment immediately and the possibility ...

Cancer drug for mums-to-be may curb baby girls' future fertility

August 11, 2016
Chemotherapy treatment during pregnancy may affect the future fertility of unborn baby girls, a study suggests.

Recommended for you

Controversial pregnancy test drug shows deformities in zebrafish embryos within hours of exposure

February 13, 2018
The components of a controversial drug, allegedly linked to birth defects in the 1960s and '70s, caused deformations to fish embryos just hours after they received a dose in new studies by researchers at the University of ...

Direct link between glands and implanting embryos critical to pregnancy

February 9, 2018
Researchers used 3D imaging with molecular testing to uncover new insight into the earliest stages of mammalian pregnancy—offering clues to unsolved questions in pregnancy.

Lab-grown eggs could pave way towards new fertility treatments

February 8, 2018
Human eggs have been fully grown in a laboratory, in a move that could lead to improved fertility treatments.

Ibuprofen in the first three months of pregnancy may harm future fertility of baby girls

February 2, 2018
Pregnant women who take the pain killer ibuprofen in the first 24 weeks of their pregnancy may be reducing the store of eggs in the ovaries of their daughters.

Monitoring fetal movements helps detect musculoskeletal malformations

January 24, 2018
A team of researchers with Imperial College London and Great Ormond Street Hospital, both in the U.K., has found that monitoring fetal movements in pregnant women can help in detecting fetal musculoskeletal malformations. ...

Women taking probiotics during pregnancy might have lower pre-eclampsia and premature birth risk

January 24, 2018
Probiotics taken during pregnancy might help lower the risks of pre-eclampsia and premature birth, suggests observational research in the online journal BMJ Open. But timing may be crucial, the findings indicate.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.