Program to freeze women's ovaries to preserve fertility after cancer

November 29, 2006

CHICAGO --- The Center for Reproductive Research at Northwestern University is launching a new, experimental research program for young women who may be at risk to lose their ovarian function and fertility following treatment for cancer.

The program, in which a woman's ovary is removed and frozen for possible future use, is being led by Teresa Woodruff, Ph.D., associate director of the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University and executive director of the Institute for Women's Health Research at Northwestern's Feinberg School of Medicine. The long-term goal of the program is to be able to extract and mature eggs from cryopreserved (frozen) ovarian tissues to initiate pregnancies once cancer treatment has been completed.

"This breakthrough may permit not only the potential preservation of fertility options for women and girls with cancer, but also can be applied to normal in vitro fertilization patients. This procedure, when developed, could radically change the way infertility is viewed, reduce and eliminate embryo storage and provide better options for women who do not respond to hormonal therapy, " said Woodruff.

In recognition of the Cancer Center's commitment to providing fertility options to women and men with cancer, it has been recognized as a Fertile Hope Center of Excellence, the fifth medical center in the country to receive this designation. Fertile Hope is a non-profit organization that assists cancer patients faced with infertility.

Woodruff's research involves developing new techniques for the long- term preservation of human ovarian tissue. Scientists are exploring ways to remove immature eggs from this tissue and to mature them in the laboratory so that they can potentially be fertilized at a later date.

At this time, the only pregnancies resulting from this research are in mice. Eligible participants will have one ovary surgically removed at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in an outpatient procedure called a laparoscopy before starting cancer treatment. Eighty percent of the ovary will be preserved for the patient's future use and 20 percent will be used by researchers to explore ways to extract and develop immature eggs.

Scientists and physicians from Northwestern are developing a new discipline described as oncofertility and are organizing a collaboration of national experts that include biophysicists, biomaterials biologists, clinical oncologists, reproductive biologists, psychologists, ethicists and legal scholars. The objectives of oncofertility are to better understand the impact of cancer treatment on fertility, to identify new technologies to preserve fertility and to explore the psychosocial role fertility has on survivorship.
-end-


Northwestern University

Related Cancer Articles from Brightsurf:

New blood cancer treatment works by selectively interfering with cancer cell signalling
University of Alberta scientists have identified the mechanism of action behind a new type of precision cancer drug for blood cancers that is set for human trials, according to research published in Nature Communications.

UCI researchers uncover cancer cell vulnerabilities; may lead to better cancer therapies
A new University of California, Irvine-led study reveals a protein responsible for genetic changes resulting in a variety of cancers, may also be the key to more effective, targeted cancer therapy.

Breast cancer treatment costs highest among young women with metastic cancer
In a fight for their lives, young women, age 18-44, spend double the amount of older women to survive metastatic breast cancer, according to a large statewide study by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Cancer mortality continues steady decline, driven by progress against lung cancer
The cancer death rate declined by 29% from 1991 to 2017, including a 2.2% drop from 2016 to 2017, the largest single-year drop in cancer mortality ever reported.

Stress in cervical cancer patients associated with higher risk of cancer-specific mortality
Psychological stress was associated with a higher risk of cancer-specific mortality in women diagnosed with cervical cancer.

Cancer-sniffing dogs 97% accurate in identifying lung cancer, according to study in JAOA
The next step will be to further fractionate the samples based on chemical and physical properties, presenting them back to the dogs until the specific biomarkers for each cancer are identified.

Moffitt Cancer Center researchers identify one way T cell function may fail in cancer
Moffitt Cancer Center researchers have discovered a mechanism by which one type of immune cell, CD8+ T cells, can become dysfunctional, impeding its ability to seek and kill cancer cells.

More cancer survivors, fewer cancer specialists point to challenge in meeting care needs
An aging population, a growing number of cancer survivors, and a projected shortage of cancer care providers will result in a challenge in delivering the care for cancer survivors in the United States if systemic changes are not made.

New cancer vaccine platform a potential tool for efficacious targeted cancer therapy
Researchers at the University of Helsinki have discovered a solution in the form of a cancer vaccine platform for improving the efficacy of oncolytic viruses used in cancer treatment.

American Cancer Society outlines blueprint for cancer control in the 21st century
The American Cancer Society is outlining its vision for cancer control in the decades ahead in a series of articles that forms the basis of a national cancer control plan.

Read More: Cancer News and Cancer Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.