[ExI] ovary sliver storage

Damien Broderick thespike at satx.rr.com
Sat Sep 22 20:14:50 UTC 2007


Clinics to grow human eggs

By Rebecca Smith, Medical Editor
Last Updated: 2:13am BST 22/09/2007

A major advance in fertility treatment is signalled today as doctors 
unveil details of a technique that will allow human eggs to be grown 
in the laboratory from ovarian tissue samples.

The procedure, which is being pioneered by two British fertility 
clinics, involves taking a piece of ovary tissue from a woman and 
"banking" it in a laboratory until she is ready to start a family.

It would allow career women, or those waiting to meet the right 
partner, to delay motherhood for years.

It could also eliminate many of the health risks associated with IVF 
treatment. It is expected to be offered to patients within five years.

Patient groups last night said the technique was an "exciting 
development" which would improve the safety of fertility treatment.

One in seven couples experiences difficulty conceiving and each year 
more than 30,000 undergo IVF treatment. More than 10,000 children are 
born each year as a result of IVF.

The first stage of the technique involves removing slivers of ovarian 
tissue through keyhole surgery.

Although these would be just millimetres wide, each sample would 
contain thousands of immature eggs.

The ovarian tissue is then frozen until the woman is ready to try for 
a baby. At that time, it will be stimulated with hormone chemicals to 
grow the immature eggs into mature ones ready for IVF treatment.

Doctors said the technique would be of "huge benefit" because women 
could avoid the process of injecting themselves daily with hormones 
to stimulate their ovaries into producing eggs. It would also spare 
them from having to endure an uncomfortable and invasive operation to 
harvest the eggs.

Hormone drugs can have serious health complications and in some cases 
can cause "hyper-stimulation" of the ovaries, which can prove fatal. 
Some people believe the drugs also increase the risk of cancer in later life.

The technique is likely to prove controversial as it moves the human 
reproductive process further into the artificial realms of the laboratory.

Doctors at the Bridge Fertility Centre in London, who are working on 
the new method, said different elements of the technique are already 
in use but it would take some time before the whole process could be 
pieced together and perfected.

Currently, women with cancer can have a piece of their ovary removed 
before treatment. This procedure is still experimental but several 
women have conceived naturally or through IVF after the tissue has 
been re-implanted.

Immature eggs taken directly from women can also be matured in a 
laboratory, but this is still difficult and more research is needed.

Scientists have managed to grow eggs from ovarian tissue in the 
laboratory before, but the process is still in the research phase and 
has not been used in successful fertility treatment.

What doctors here and abroad are working towards is being able to 
perfect this technique and put the whole process together into 
practical use for patients within five years.

Dr Alan Thornhill, scientific director of the Bridge Fertility 
Centre, said: "It would mean we have got a pool of thousands of eggs 
at very little risk to the woman and relatively low cost because you 
avoid the huge drug costs. Instead of having up to 10 eggs to work 
with, with this you can have lots of eggs without the risk of over-stimulation.

"The part of the process we are removing is of huge benefit to the woman."

But Dr Thornhill added that current methods of maturing the eggs in 
the laboratory would take a few more years to perfect.

Simon Fishel, the managing director of the Care Fertility clinic, the 
biggest provider of IVF in Britain, is also working towards the 
technique and said it should be ready to offer to patients within five years.

"The way we do it now is the only way we know how. If we can improve 
on that we ought to improve it. This approach would only be an 
advantage to the woman because it avoids most of the risks. It would 
be better and healthier for the patient."

Nuala Scarisbrick, a trustee of the pro-life charity Life, said: 
"Children should not be manufactured by people in laboratories.

"This is a deliberate attempt to have nothing to do with nature."

[unlike false teeth, hip implants, etc...]

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