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Fertility hope for cancer sufferers

Dr Kirsty Horsey

Progress Educational Trust

05 April 2002

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[BioNews, London] A British man who had a testicular transplant operation to restore his fertility after cancer treatment is to become a father. The man became sterile after having chemotherapy for Hodgkin's disease.

Nine out of ten men who have chemotherapy treatment for the disease, a cancer of the white blood cells, are rendered infertile. Doctors at the Christie Hospital in Manchester removed tissue from the man's testes before he began treatment and froze it in liquid nitrogen. The tissue was reimplanted two years later, when the man had overcome the disease.

Although the man's wife is now pregnant, it is not known whether the procedure was definitely the cause as it is possible that he may have naturally restarted the production of sperm. The doctors are waiting to see results from six other men who had testicular tissue stored and transplanted. Professor John Radford, who led the research team, said that they remained 'cautiously optimistic' about the procedure.

More hope for male infertility has emerged from Japan, where a type of male infertility has been cured by gene therapy in mice. Japanese scientists used a genetically modified virus to 'fix' a piece of DNA responsible for controlling sperm maturation. The scientists, led by Takashi Shinohara of Kyoto University, have demonstrated that sperm production can be triggered in previously sterile males by inserting healthy copies of the gene. It is hoped that a similar technique will eventually be suitable for use in humans.

© Copyright Progress Educational Trust

Reproduced with permission from BioNews, an email and online sources of news, information and comment on assisted reproduction and genetics.

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Date Added: 05 April 2002   Date Updated: 11 September 2004
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