Women unable to have children have been given new hope – after scientists created an artificial ovary.
A synthetic organ – made out of the woman's own tissue – could be transplanted into a female left infertile due to medical treatment. She could then go on to produce eggs naturally.
The breakthrough technique is being developed to help women and girls who face chemotherapy for cancer treatment.
Chemotherapy drugs can render a woman infertile as they can destroy ovaries.
Women unable to have children have been given new hope – after scientists created an artificial ovary. Stock photo
Young girls who have not undergone puberty can be rendered sterile before their ovaries can even produce eggs.
One approach to prevent this is to freeze ovarian tissue – which produces eggs – ahead of chemo treatment and replace it afterwards.
But cancer patients risk being re-exposed to cancerous cells harboured in the removed ovarian tissue.
The new technique prevents this by stripping out all of the patients' potentially cancerous cells from the ovarian tissue, leaving just a 'scaffold' – a framework of protein which no longer contains any cells, removing the chance cancer could be lurking.
The framework provides an environment for the patient's ovarian early-stage follicles – which can go on to generate hundreds of eggs – to grow.
It can then be grafted into the patient's body and go on to allow a woman to