Stem Cell Re­search Pro­vides Hope for In­fer­tile Can­cer Sur­vivors

IVF India - - Unplugged -

Ra­di­a­tion and chemo­ther­apy can pack a pow­er­ful punch against all kinds of can­cers. Those who sur­vive, how­ever, are of­ten left with bad news: Their treat­ments have ren­dered them in­fer­tile.

A UTSA pro­fes­sor has now demon­strated that it is pos­si­ble to re­move tes­tic­u­lar stem cells from a mon­key prior to chemo­ther­apy, freeze them and later, af­ter can­cer treat­ments, trans­plant th­ese cells where they can restart sperm pro­duc­tion and restore fer­til­ity. UTSA As­sis­tant Pro­fes­sor Brian Her­mann worked in col­lab­o­ra­tion with re­searchers at the Univer­sity of Pitts­burgh School of Medicine's Magee-Womens Re­search In­sti­tute (MWRI) on a tech­nique that might be used to make male can­cer pa­tients fer­tile us­ing their own sper­mato­go­nial stem cells. "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." While men fac­ing can­cer treat­ments, which could cause in­fer­til­ity, are able to store their own sperm for fu­ture use in the fer­til­ity clinic, this is not an op­tion for boys be­fore pu­berty who are not yet mak­ing sperm.

But, all pre­pu­ber­tal boys have sper­mato­go­nial stem cells (SSCs) in their testes, which could be used for trans­plan­ta­tion. The con­cept of us­ing sper­mato­go­nial stem cells to restore fer­til­ity was first in­tro­duced in the mid1990s by Univer­sity of Penn­syl­va­nia scholar Ralph L. Brin­ster. Since that time, schol­ars have been work­ing to demon­strate the con­cept is vi­able.

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