These successes, however, have created a challenge for young cancer patients since chemotherapy and radiation treatments that often save lives threaten fertility.
Techniques available to safeguard fertility, such as freezing eggs for later embryo development, have poor odds of success, leaving patients with very limited options for the future. But that is beginning to change as researchers improve current techniques, mature human eggs in the laboratory, and discover cellular mechanisms that could help preserve and even restore fertility.
Researchers will report on these and other findings at the 42nd annual meeting of the Society for the Study of Reproduction (SSR), July 18 to 22, at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center in Pittsburgh.
Summaries of the findings are as follows:
Growing Egg Cells in the Lab
Researchers at Northwestern University are developing a method they hope will help preserve a woman's fertility after radiation and chemotherapy treatment. Led by Teresa K. Woodruff, Ph.D., the team has grown undeveloped human eggs to near maturity in laboratory cultures. During a 30-day experiment, they grew human follicles¯tiny sacs that contain immature eggs¯in the lab until the eggs they contained were nearly mature. According to Dr. Woodruff, this is the first step in developing a new fertility option for young cancer patients.
Making a More Viable Embryo
Cryopreservation, the process of freezing eggs for later fertilization, has played a major role in assisted reproductive technology for the past two decades. Unfortunately, however, eggs rarely survive the freezing and thawing processes required to develop a viable embryo. A mere half of eggs survive and of these, only 20 percent, once fertilized, result in the birth of a baby. According to David Albertini, Ph.D., University of Kansas Medical Center, clinicians may be waiting too long – three hours – after thawing eggs to initiate fertilization with the sperm, a process necessary to create an embryo. When his research team used confocal microscopy to observe what was happening at a chromosomal level, they found that the structures needed to make the embryo's chromosomes align and divide were in place after only an hour. This indicates a shorter thawing time frame could have greater potential for success.
Restoring Fertility From the Bottom Up
Researchers at Stanford University, led by Renee A. Reijo Pera, Ph.D., have identified several genes involved in the formation of germ cells that give rise to eggs and sperm. These genes, DAZ and DAZL, form the basis of human embryo and germ cell growth and may be a key to understanding human reproductive failure – one of the most common health problems in men and women and a common cause of birth defects. While continued progress in developing germ cells capable of making embryos renders fertility restoration feasible, it also raises significant ethical questions, says Dr. Reijo Pera.
The Society for the Study of Reproduction was founded in 1967 to promote the study of reproduction by fostering interdisciplinary communication among scientists through conferences and publications in the organization's journal, Biology of Reproduction. The SSR president is Asgerally T. Fazleabas, Ph.D., University of Illinois College of Medicine in Chicago. Program committee chair is Patricia Hunt, Ph.D., Washington State University; and chair of the local organizing committee is Tony M. Plant, Ph.D., University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.
NOTE TO EDITORS: The scientists will discuss their research during a briefing, "Preserving Fertility: Causes and Solutions," at 11:30 a.m., Monday, July 20, which will be moderated by Patricia Hunt, Ph.D., Washington State University, and 2009 SSR program chair. All briefings take place in room 312 of the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, Pittsburgh. Reporters may participate via telephone conference call by dialing 800-937-0301 (from within the U.S. and Canada). From other countries, call +1 303-248-9679. To be connected to the briefing, enter access code 6489725. The press room hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday, July 20, through Tuesday, July 21, and 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., Wednesday, July 22. Press room staff may be reached during this time at (412) 352-2886. Otherwise, please call UPMC Media Relations at (412) 647-3555.
Clare Collins | EurekAlert!
Drone vs. truck deliveries: Which create less carbon pollution?
31.05.2017 | University of Washington
New study: How does Europe become a leading player for software and IT services?
03.04.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für System- und Innovationsforschung (ISI)
An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.
Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...
Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.
Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...
Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.
As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...
Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.
With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...
Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine
Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...
19.06.2017 | Event News
13.06.2017 | Event News
13.06.2017 | Event News
23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
23.06.2017 | Information Technology