Last updated date3:10pm
Cancer remains among the leading causes of death in the developed world, yet decades of research have yielded significant progress for most types of cancer, and in some cases nearly doubled survival rates. Unfortunately for many patients, widely used chemotherapies used to treat cancer are gonadotoxic and the only practical option for preserving fertility is to freeze ovarian tissue before undertaking their chemotherapeutic regimen and auto-grafting tissue and undergoing in vitro fertilization following remission. Relatively few babies (~60) have been reported by these methods in over a decade of attempts, and many studies indicate that a vital obstacle to success of the graft is prompt and complete restoration of blood flow following transplantation. Using vascular cells isolated from either umbilical cord or human embryonic stem cells, we have developed a co-transplantation model that significantly improves survival and function of ovarian tissue grafts. Building on this platform, we have developed engineered vascular cell lines that enable sustained and direct paracrine delivery of bioactive cytokines to transplanted ovarian tissue. This platform will not only improve the functional output of transplanted ovarian tissue in patients undergoing fertility preservation, but will also foster mechanistic insight into molecular factors that govern activation, growth and maturation of oocytes within the ovary.