Today the National Institutes of Health published a news released based on an article about Oncofertility research from the journal Human Reproduction "In vitro grown human ovarian follicles from cancer patients support oocyte growth" by Min Xu, Susan Barrett, Erin West-Farrell, Laxmi Kondapalli, Sarah Kiesewetter, Lonnie Shea and Teresa Woodruff.
The researchers were trying to develop a way for the in vitro (in a controlled environment outside of the body) growth of undeveloped follicles (a fluid-filled sac containing an immature egg) as a way to restore fertility in women who have undergone radiation or chemotherapy to fight cancer. For the investigation, the researchers took out secondary follicles from human ovarian tissue donated by 14 different cancer patients ranging from 16 to 39 years old. The follicles were then grown in a specially-designed bio-engineered culture for 30 days.
The researchers found that the follicles developed from the secondary stage to the antral stage (the final stage of growth of an oocyte which then develops into an egg). Therefore, the results of the study indicated that it was possible for follicles to continue development even when not in the human body. This is encouraging but more research needs to be done to see whether these oocytes can eventually be fertilized.
(To see an animation of normal female fertility, click here.)
To read the study online on the Human Reproduction Web site, click here.
To read the NIH news release, click here.
Look out for more news coverage of the Oncofertility Consortium's study!