In a ground-breaking research project at the University of Gothenburg, seven Swedish women have had embryos reintroduced after receiving wombs from living donors. Now the first transplanted woman has delivered a baby – a healthy and normally developed boy. The world-unique birth was acknowledged in The Lancet on 5 October.
The uterus transplantation research project at the University of Gothenburg started in 1999 and has been evaluated in over 40 scientific articles. The goal of the Gothenburg project is to enable women who were born without a womb or who have lost their wombs in cancer surgery to give birth to their own children.
Nine women in the project have received a womb from live donors – in most cases the recipient’s mother but also other family members and close friends. The transplanted uterus was removed in two cases, in one case due to a serious infection and in the other due to blood clots in the transplanted blood vessels.
The seven remaining women have in 2014 tried to become pregnant through a process where their own embryos, produced through IVF, are reintroduced to the transplanted uterus.
First child from a transplanted uterus
The first early pregnancy was confirmed in the spring after a successful first pregnancy attempt ina woman in her mid-30s, a little over a year after her transplantation.
In early September, the woman successfully delivered a baby by caesarean section, making her the first woman in the world to deliver a child from a transplanted uterus. Her uterus was donated by a 61-year-old unrelated woman.
The caesarean section had to be performed earlier than planned: the woman developed preeclampsia in week 32 of her pregnancy the CTG indicated that the baby was under stress. A caesarean section was performed in accordance with normal clinical routines so as not to risk the health of the mother and child.
According to Professor Mats Brännström, who performed the caesarean section, the perfectly healthy newborn boy is developing normally. The baby weighed 1,775 grams (3 lbs 14.6 oz) at birth, which is normal size considering the gestational age at delivery.
‘The baby screamed right away and has not required any other care than normal clinical observation at the neonatal unit. The mother and child are both doing well and have returned home. The new parents are of course very happy and thankful,’ says Professor Mats Brännström, who is leading the research project.
‘The reason for the woman’s preeclampsia is unknown, but it may be due to her immunosuppressive treatment combined with the fact that she is missing one kidney. The age of the donated womb may also be a factor. Also, preeclampsia is generally more common among women who have become pregnant through IVF treatment.’
Mild rejection episodes
The woman has had three mild rejection episodes since the transplant, one of which occurred during the pregnancy. The rejection episodes, which are often seen also in other types of transplants, could be stopped with immunosuppressive treatment.
The research team followed the pregnancy closely, carefully monitoring the growth and development of the foetus with a special focus on the blood supply to the uterus and umbilical cord.
‘There were concerns that the blood supply may be compromised since we had reattached the blood vessels to the womb. But we did not notice anything unusual concerning the function of the uterus and the foetus, and the pregnancy followed all normal curves,’ says Brännström.
The successful delivery is considered a major step forward.
‘It gives us scientific evidence that the concept of uterus transplantation can be used to treat uterine factor infertility, which up to now has remained the last untreatable form of female infertility. It also shows that transplants with a live donor are possible, including if the donor is past menopause,’ says Brännström.
Several research teams around the world have been awaiting the results of the Gothenburg study in order to launch similar observational studies. The pregnancy attempts are ongoing with the other six women in the project.
Watch the research team talk about the succesful birth: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kujArjUSt5A&list=PLF9EB8295A10334D9
Link to journal: http://www.thelancet.com/
Mats Brännström, Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the University of Gothenburg and Chief Physician at the Sahlgrenska University Hospital
ABOUT THE UTERUS TRANSPLANTATION RESEARCH PROJECT
The uterus transplantation research project at the University of Gothenburg is the world’s first systematic and scientifically based study aimed to find a treatment for women suffering from uterine factor infertility.
The researchers in the project are carefully monitoring several medical, psychological and quality of life-related parameters.
Uterine infertility, which affects over 200,000 European women, is the only form of female infertility that until now has lacked effective treatment.
Two previous experiments with uterine transplants have been performed, in Saudi Arabia in 2000 and in Turkey in 2011. In the first case, the womb from a living donor, had to be removed shortly after the transplant. In the second case, the donor was a brain-dead heart beating young woman. In 2013, the research team in Turkey reported several attempts to reintroduce embryos and two very early pregnancies that ended in miscarriage.
The research project in Gothenburg is funded by grants from a private research foundation, the Jane and Dan Olsson Foundation.
Krister Svahn | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft
Scientists discover the basics of how pressure-sensing Piezo proteins work
22.08.2019 | Weill Cornell Medicine
Protein-transport discovery may help define new strategies for treating eye disease
22.08.2019 | Scripps Research Institute
Theoretical physicists at Trinity College Dublin are among an international collaboration that has built the world's smallest engine - which, as a single calcium ion, is approximately ten billion times smaller than a car engine.
Work performed by Professor John Goold's QuSys group in Trinity's School of Physics describes the science behind this tiny motor.
Together with the University of Innsbruck, the ETH Zurich and Interactive Fully Electrical Vehicles SRL, Infineon Austria is researching specific questions on the commercial use of quantum computers. With new innovations in design and manufacturing, the partners from universities and industry want to develop affordable components for quantum computers.
Ion traps have proven to be a very successful technology for the control and manipulation of quantum particles. Today, they form the heart of the first...
Experimental progress towards engineering quantized gauge fields coupled to ultracold matter promises a versatile platform to tackle problems ranging from condensed-matter to high-energy physics
The interaction between fields and matter is a recurring theme throughout physics. Classical cases such as the trajectories of one celestial body moving in the...
Soft robots have a distinct advantage over their rigid forebears: they can adapt to complex environments, handle fragile objects and interact safely with humans. Made from silicone, rubber or other stretchable polymers, they are ideal for use in rehabilitation exoskeletons and robotic clothing. Soft bio-inspired robots could one day be deployed to explore remote or dangerous environments.
Most soft robots are actuated by rigid, noisy pumps that push fluids into the machines' moving parts. Because they are connected to these bulky pumps by tubes,...
Researchers at TU Graz are working together with European partners on new possibilities of measuring vehicle emissions.
Today, air pollution is one of the biggest challenges facing European cities. As part of the Horizon 2020 research project CARES (City Air Remote Emission...
16.08.2019 | Event News
14.08.2019 | Event News
12.08.2019 | Event News
22.08.2019 | Life Sciences
22.08.2019 | Physics and Astronomy
22.08.2019 | Physics and Astronomy