Experimental surgery enables once-infertile woman to give birth
By The Associated Press
Published: Monday, Sept. 30, 2013, 4:57 p.m.
A 30-year-old infertile woman gave birth in a procedure in which surgeons removed her ovaries and re-implanted tissue they treated in a lab, researchers report.
The experimental technique was tried only in a small group of Japanese women with a specific kind of infertility problem, but scientists hope it can help women in their early 40s who have trouble getting pregnant because of their age.
The new mother gave birth to a son in Tokyo in December, and she and the child continue to be healthy, said Dr. Kazuhiro Kawamura of the St. Marianna University School of Medicine in Kawasaki, Japan. He and others describe the technique in a report published online Monday by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The mother, who was not identified, had been diagnosed with primary ovarian insufficiency, an uncommon form of infertility sometimes called premature menopause. It appears in about 1 percent of women of childbearing age. The cause of most cases is unknown, but the outcome is that the ovary has trouble producing eggs.
That leaves women with only a 5 percent to 10 percent chance of having a baby unless they get treated. The standard treatment is using donor eggs.
After the experimental procedure, Kawamura and colleagues were able to recover eggs from five of their 27 patients. One woman went on to have a miscarriage, one did not get pregnant, and two more have not yet attempted pregnancy, Kawamura said in an email.
The approach differs from what has been done to preserve fertility in some cancer patients, who had normal ovarian tissue removed and stored while they underwent cancer treatments, and then put back. The new work involved ovaries that were failing to function normally.
In the ovary, eggs mature in structures called follicles. For women with the condition the new study targeted, the follicles are either missing or failing to produce eggs. The experimental treatment was designed to stimulate dormant follicles.
First, the women's ovaries were removed and cut into strips, which were frozen. Later the strips were thawed and cut into tiny cubes, a step intended to stimulate maturation of the follicles. Then the cubes were treated with drugs to stimulate further development of the follicles. Cubes were then transplanted just under the surface of the women's fallopian tubes.
Within six months, eight women showed signs of follicle maturation, and five of them produced eggs for fertilization in the lab with their husbands' sperm. The fertilized eggs were grown into early embryos, which were frozen for preservation. In the three attempts at pregnancy, one or two embryos were implanted in the women.
The researchers found that half the 27 patients had no follicles at all, which meant the treatment could not help them, said Aaron Hsueh of Stanford University, senior author of the study. He said researchers hope to find a way to stimulate follicles without removing the ovaries.
Dr. Sherman Silber of the Infertility Center of St. Louis criticized the approach, saying he has had success by using drugs rather than surgery to treat the condition.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Sex-crimes prosecutor accused in groping
- El Nino could bring relief to U.S.
- Maryland bill would link criminal, gun owners data
- Crisis stymies Obama getaway
- Health marketplace targets not signing up, survey shows
- Woman drives minivan with 3 kids into ocean
- ‘Senior officers should not do that,’ Army leader says in pleading guilty to misconduct charges
- Senator wants fast action on rail safety
- House foils Obama’s new power plant limits on carbon pollution
- Censure of Issa fails as Dems blast actions at IRS hearing
- Gillibrand sex assault bill halted by fellow Democrat