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Cancer fertility boost

21st April 2008

A research team working in Edinburgh have developed a way of retaining the fertility of young women who have cancer, so they can have a baby when they are older.

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The team, working at Edinburgh University and Edinburgh Royal Infirmary, discovered how to grow human eggs in a lab environment.

These lab-grown eggs could potentially be fertilised, used in IVF treatment and put into a womb.

The eggs could also be grown in large numbers in order to facilitate stem cell research. The new research could lead to the development of a way to grow eggs without needing to make hybrid embryos by using the eggs of female cows.

Female cancer patients who receive chemotherapy can be made infertile by the treatment. At present, a section of the ovary is taken out and can be implanted back into a woman in the future, although this carries a danger of implanting cancerous cells into the patient again.

Dr Evelyn Telfer, from the university's School of Biological Sciences, said: "This is a significant step in developing immature eggs to maturity outside the body."

"Women who face infertility as a result of chemotherapy, or who want to put their biological clock on hold, could benefit from this system, however, there is a lot more research to be carried out before this technique could be safely applied within a clinical setting."


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