Researchers at Stanford University School of Medicine and their colleagues in Japan have now developed a new method of treating infertility. The latest research has already helped two infertile women conceive. One of them recently delivered a healthy baby boy in Japan.
About 27 women with primary ovarian insufficiency volunteered for the experimental procedure. Primary ovarian insufficiency or POI is a condition where a woman's ovaries stop working (before 40 years of age) and prevent the follicles from producing eggs.
In the latest technique, called "in vitro activation" (IVA), researchers remove the ovary or a part of it and treat it outside her body. The treated ovary is then re-implanted near the fallopian tubes. The woman is then given hormones that stimulate the growth of specialized structures in the ovary.
"Women with primary ovarian insufficiency enter menopause quite early in life, before they turn 40," said Aaron Hsueh, PhD, professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Stanford and senior author of the study, according to a news release. "Previous research has suggested that these women still have very tiny, primordial primary and secondary follicles, and that even though they are no longer having menstrual cycles they may still be treatable. Our results obtained with our clinical collaborators in Japan make us hopeful that this is a group of patients who can be helped."
The woman, who delivered the baby boy in the study, stopped getting her periods when she was just 25 years old. She began the latest IVA procedure when she was 29. Researchers removed six viable eggs that she produced after the treatment and mixed it with sperms from her husband, producing four healthy embryos. Two of these embryos were transferred into her uterus, of which one developed into a healthy baby, The Los Angeles Times reported.
The baby boy was born after 37 weeks and 2 days. He weighs about 7 pounds and is developing well.
After successfully restoring fertility in women suffering from POI, scientists plan on improving the treatment and finding if the therapy can help women who have developed infertility due to cancer.
"There will be further improvement of the process," Hsueh told The Los Angeles Times. "Right now, we are just very lucky to have the initial advance. We hope the procedure will be used by many people."
The study is published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
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