Preserving fertility through fertility


Chemotherapy and radiation can damage or kill immature ovarian eggs which is one of the reasons young women treated for cancer lose their fertility. Northwest Medicine scientists have discovered a molecular pathway that may prevent the death of immature ovarian eggs due to chemotherapy. This could be a real game-changer for young women dealing with cancer.

Protecting young women’s fertility

Researchers added a currently approved chemotherapy drug, imatinib mesylate, to another chemotherapy drug, cisplatin and treated female mice in the lab with it. The results were presented at The Endocrine Society’s 95th Annual Meeting. “This research advances the efforts to find a medical treatment to protect the fertility and hormone health of girls and young women during cancer treatment,” explained So-Youn Kim, lead investigator and a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Teresa Woodruff, chief of fertility preservation at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

Blocking the effect of chemotherapy

By adding imatinib mesylate to the drug cisplatin, the new combination blocks the action of a protein that triggers a cascade of events resulting in the loss of fertility with the death of immature eggs. The protein that triggers the oocyte’s death is called Tap63 and was discovered by Kim.

May lead to other treatments as well

Other reports has suggested that imatinib is a fertility-protecting drug working against cisplatin, but reports of the drug’s effectiveness have been contradictory. Kim’s research confirms its effectiveness in a live animal model. Her research continues to see if imatinib can be combined with other chemotherapy agents to protect fertility in those cases as well. “Previous reports have shown that chemotherapy and radiation-treated oocytes are able to recover from DNA damage,” Kim stated.

Source: MedicalNewsToday, Northwest Medicine


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