Israeli scientists have successfully retrieved eggs from ovaries that had been frozen, thawed and transplanted in sheep in a project that could provide new hope for infertile women.
Researchers at the Institute of Animal Science, Agriculture Research Organization in Bet Dagan, said on Thursday that the research showed it was possible to restore ovarian function following a transplant in a large animal.
They now hope to test the technique in humans.
“This approach could revolutionize the field of cryopreservation (freezing) for diverse human applications, such as organ transplants, as well as helping women who face the loss of their fertility,” said Dr. Amir Arav, the head of the research team.
The technique could help young cancer patients whose fertility could be damaged by treatments such as radiotherapy, chemotherapy and radical surgery which can cause premature menopause and infertility.
If the ovary is removed and frozen before the treatment begins and transplanted afterwards patients may still be able to use their own eggs to have children.
Two babies have been born after fertility had been restored following transplants with thawed ovarian tissue but Arav said it was a delicate procedure and severe bleeding could occur.
Earlier attempts at transplanting whole ovaries, which had not been frozen or thawed, in women had failed.