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Cancer Drug May Help Infertile Women, New Research Suggests

By Christie Abagon , Dec 07, 2016 11:12 AM EST
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Now there's hope for infertile women.  Scientists found that a common cancer drug can trigger the development of new eggs in ovaries.  Researchers at Edinburgh University found that women who had been treated with a chemotherapy drug combination, which is used to target Hodgkin's lymphoma, had more eggs in their ovaries afterwards. 

Cancer Drugs May Help Improve Infertility

Eight women, who are aged between 16 and 29 had been treated for Hodgkin's lymphoma with a drug combination known as ABVD, donated their ovarian tissue for research.  When the tissue was examined, the researchers expected to see damage done by the drugs.  Instead, the result shocked them. 

"The tissue looked more like that of pre-pubescent than adult ovaries. It wasn't just the fact that there were more immature eggs, it was the way they were organised and clustered. There were features that we only see in the young ovary," said lead scientist Professor Evelyn Telfer.

The Shock Of Chemotherapy May Have Triggered The Ovaries To Produce New Eggs

Researchers say that the shock of the chemotherapy treatment may have triggered the stem cells in the ovaries into producing new follicles - the ones with the potential to release an egg cell. 

"We don't know what the mechanism is. Our working hypothesis is that the drugs destroyed eggs in the ovaries and at the same time induced the activation of cell populations in a way that's compatible with making new eggs," Telfer said. 

Scientists say more research is needed to validate proof and also to understand how the ovaries were able to produce more eggs.  Telfer concluded: "This study involves only a few patients, but its findings were consistent and its outcome may be significant and far-reaching. We need to know more about how this drug combination acts on the ovaries, and the implications of this."

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