Scientists at Hadassah University Hospital in Jerusalem discovered that eggs of young cancer patients could be removed, ripened in a laboratory and frozen to preserve their fertility after chemotherapy. Egg harvesting methods for sexually mature women, such as hormone-induced egg harvesting or taking ovarian tissue, aren't currently possible for girls. "We were able to extract oocytes using needle aspiration from very young girls," said Ariel Revel, lecturer of obstetrics and gynecology at Hadassah University Hospital. "We found seven eggs in a girl of five years old with Wilms' tumor, eight in an 8-year-old with Ewing's sarcoma, and 17 in a 10-year-old, also with Ewing's sarcoma." It is yet to be established whether the eggs matured in the laboratory and frozen are viable, but the scientists think they will be able to be fertilized. This discovery may pave the way for thousands of young girls with cancer to achieve fertility after treatment that would otherwise leave them sterile.
A study at the University of Leicester will investigate whether the natural hormone relaxin could play a greater role in human pregnancy. "It is hypothesized that this hormone in humans may be involved in the implantation process of pregnancy through softening of the uterine tissue at the site of implantation, allowing the embryo to obtain nutrients from the mother and for the placenta to eventually form," said Abigail Thompson, human reproductive biologist at the University of Leicester. Thompson intends to use a model system to localize the hormone at the point where the embryo attaches to the uterus and then study the effects. If the research yields positive results, it could have applications in infertility treatment.
Scientists at the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research found that the cytokine called macrophage migration inhibitory factor (MIF) can determine male fertility. The study found that men with infertility problems had very high or very low MIF levels. The scientists further found that when MIF was added to healthy sperm, it decreased sperm count and impaired motility. Yousef Al-Abed, main author of the study, wonders whether the findings of the study could open a new avenue for male contraception, or develop a test for male infertility.
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