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Baby planning: Freezing ovaries could save fertility

The fertility of women who undergo cancer treatment could be protected following a scientific breakthrough involving sheep. In an experiment, four ewes gave birth to lambs after their ovaries were removed and frozen, then thawed and replaced.

Three lambs survived and one died shortly after birth. It is believed to be the first time frozen ovarian tissue has been used to produce live offspring in large mammals.

If adapted for humans, the process could allow women who undergo chemotherapy or radiotherapy for cancer to have ovarian tissue removed before their treatment and then grafted back again afterwards. Cancer treatment can damage ovaries which contain woman's eggs.

'These four pregnancies, after frozen ovarian grafts, give immense hope to women who become sterilised by cancer treatments,' said Professor Bruno Salle who led the study in France.

Source: Metro, Tuesday, July 3, 2001

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