Cancer survivors get new hope for fertility

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While chemotherapy and radiation may saves lives, it often renders those lives incapable of creating children. A UTSA professor has now shown that it’s possible to remove testicular stem cells prior to chemotherapy, cryopreserve them, and after cancer treatment, transplant the cells and restart healthy sperm production thereby restoring fertility. It’s working in primate models and researchers are very hopeful it will translate to humans.

First success with primates, then test on humans

“This is a really exciting milestone for this research,” said John McCarrey, director of the San Antonio Cellular Therapeutics Institute. “This is the first time that anybody has been able to show the concept works in a primate model, and that is an important step in moving the research forward to clinical trials.”

For pre-pubescent boys this may be their only chance for reproduction

While cryopreservation of sperm has been an option for mature men, it is not an option for prepuberty boys not yet capable of producing viable sperm. Since all boys have spermatogonial stem cells (SSCs) in their testes, it is possible that for them this type of transplantation could restore their fertility if lost during cancer treatment.

More study needed to make it viable

“This research demonstrates the proof of principle – that the concept works in primates and has a good chance of working in humans,” said Hermann. “We need to better understand the optimal timing of transplantation, how to prepare testicular stem cells for transplantation and make them safe for transplantation, and how to maximize their ability to restart sperm production.”

More clinics need to provide the service

“There are currently only a handful of clinics around the world that will remove and preserve testicular stem cell samples from prepubertal patients, and that limits the availability of candidates,” noted Hermann. Until more clinics provide the service, it will be challenging to test transplantation.

“For a long time oncologists have been unable to address the long-term consequences of life-saving chemotherapy and radiation treatments such as infertility,” explained Hermann. “That is now beginning to change as laboratory research such as this study provides new experimental options for patients facing infertility after cancer.”
Source: MedicalNewsToday, UTSA


 
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