Belgian team has second ovarian transplant success
Dr. Kirsty Horsey
Progress Educational Trust31 December 1969
Researchers at the University of Louvain in Brussels, Belgium, say that a second woman there has had a successful ovarian tissue transplant. The 28-year old woman - who had ovarian tissue removed in 1999 before undergoing radiotherapy for sickle-cell anaemia, a treatment that can render women infertile - has started to menstruate again after the transplant procedure.
Strips of ovarian tissue were removed from the woman before the radiotherapy treatment. These were cut into sections and frozen in liquid nitrogen. In August 2004, some of the tissue was thawed and transplanted back to one of the woman's non-functioning ovaries and the woman's menstrual cycle returned in January 2005, showing that the tissue transplant was successful.
Last September, the first baby was born following an ovarian tissue transplant, to another Belgian woman, 32-year-old Ouarda Touirat. At the time, there was some doubt about whether the restoration of Ms Touirat's menstrual cycle, and thus her fertility, was a result of the transplant procedure or a natural return of the ovary to its functioning state.
Professor Jacques Donnez, leader of the Belgian research team, presented the new research at the annual conference of the UK's Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) in London. The research was first reported in Venice at the 12th World Congress on Human Reproduction. Donnez said that the woman was not yet pregnant, but her menstrual cycle had started again and the signs were that her reproductive function had returned. He told the conference that the woman was delighted with how her treatment had gone so far: 'She didn't menstruate for two years and the first time she started bleeding again she knew she was still a woman and she was very pleased', he said. He also said that 'we are hoping that she will now be able to become pregnant like the last patient, but we do not know how long that may take'.
Professor Alan Trounson, a fertility expert and stem cell researcher at Monash University in Australia, described Professor Donnez's latest success as 'fantastic', adding 'it gives strong credibility to what he has been doing'.
Reproduced with permission from BioNews, an email and online sources of news, information and comment on assisted reproduction and genetics.