For women who have undergone chemotherapy and wish to have children of their own, there could be some glimmer of hope.

Doctors have successfully developed an "artificial ovary" using human tissue and eggs that can help women conceive after going through cancer treatments and other cancer therapies that can make fertility vulnerable.

The lab-produced ovary, made in Copenhagen, Denmark, has kept human eggs alive for weeks at a time. This offers some hope that it could one day help women have families even after going through the brutal process of chemotherapy and similar treatments.

"The artificial ovary will consist of a scaffold (originating from the woman's own tissue or from donated tissue) combined with her own follicles," said study co-author Susanne Pors, who will present the research at the 34th Annual Meeting of the European Society of Human Reproduction in Barcelona, Spain. "It is newly constructed, but biological."

What Happens To Fertility During Cancer?

When a woman is diagnosed with cancer, one of the most important things she has to consider is how best to preserve her fertility, as treatments will greatly damage it.

At present, there are a couple of methods at her disposal: she could choose to remove and freeze some of her eggs and then, after her treatment, she can opt for in-vitro fertilization. Alternatively, she can also undergo ovarian tissue transfer, which involves removing ovarian tissue before cancer treatment, then reimplanting it back on afterward.

The latter method is considered unsafe, however, because scientists think the ovarian tissue might contain malignant cells, and thus, reintroduce cancer to the woman's body after being treated.

The research in question is an attempt to introduce a method that won't harbor risks of reintroducing the disease. Pors and other authors of the study thought that if they could develop an artificial ovarian tissue that's free of cancer, they could seed it with early-stage follicles, which in turn might develop naturally. In the end, it could restore the woman's ability to conceive children.

More Research Must Be Done

The approach has been garnering praise from the scientific community, but more research is needed. Also, the researchers' data must also be peer-reviewed first and foremost, then published in a scientific journal.

Even in its early stage, the research could be a groundbreaking development in relation to fertility options for women who undergo cancer treatments.

"It's an exciting development. This is early days for the work but it's a very interesting proof of concept," said Nick Macklon, a medical director at London Women's Clinic.

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