X-Message-Number: 12037
Date: Wed, 30 Jun 1999 21:07:28 -0400
From: Jan Coetzee <>
Subject: Thawed Ovarian

Babies From Thawed Ovarian Tissue By 2009 -Experts

LONDON (Reuters) - Scientific advances over the next decade could enable
women to have
babies from thawed ovarian tissue, opening new treatment options for
infertile women, Belgian
researchers predicted Wednesday.

The technique is still in its early stages but in 10 years it may be
possible to remove immature
eggs from the tissue, mature them in the laboratory and then fertilize
and implant them in the
woman using in vitro fertility (IVF) techniques.

``I believe that maturing eggs in the lab will open many new treatment
options for infertile
women,'' Professor John Smitz of the Center for Reproductive Medicine in
Brussels said in a

Doctors are already removing ovarian tissue from women who are about to
chemotherapy treatment for cancer, which can destroy their ovaries, and
freezing it. But scientists
have not been able to mature the eggs in the laboratory.

Smitz and his team told a conference of fertility experts in Tours,
France, that they were trying
out new methods to mature follicles, the cluster of cells containing
young eggs, in the laboratory,
but they said it involved very specialized nutrients and growth

So far, it has only worked in mice and Smitz said all the eggs must be
checked for defects that
could lead to abnormalities in the embryo.

``At the moment it is easy to take tissue and bank it in a freezer, but
it's not so easy to know what
to do with it after that. The procedure is very difficult and may take
at least 10 years to develop,''
he said.

Unlike sperm and embryos which can easily be frozen and thawed it is
impossible to freeze
mature eggs, or oocytes, because it destroys their delicate internal

Smitz and his colleagues presented their research to the European
Society of Human
Reproduction and Embryology during its annual meeting. They said once
the technology was
perfected it would provide a new treatment option for women whose
ovaries are damaged by
cancer treatments.

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