Freezing human eggs - new findings point way to greater success

ted the first study** to confirm that human ovarian follicles have the potential to grow and develop after freezing.

Two women due to undergo cancer treatment donated ovarian tissue. This was preserved and frozen in sucrose and the chemical propanediol, and, after thawing, grafted under the kidney capsules of immunodeficient mice. Unfrozen tissue was also grafted as a control.

There was no evidence of ovarian follicle development in the tissue at the time of grafting. But, when the grafts were recovered from the mice around 20 weeks later, the researchers identified normal antral follicles in the majority of both fresh and frozen tissue. Antral follicle development is the crucial stage shortly before ovulation, when a central cavity is formed in the follicle.

The leader of the research team, Dr Debra Gook of the Reproductive Services Unit at the Royal Women's Hospital, said: "Our study is the first to confirm normal growth and development of human follicles to the antral stage following cryopreservation. Although this is preliminary work, development of these follicles after 20 weeks within almost all of the grafts, suggests that development following grafting is reproducible. The high rate of functional preservation of follicles following cryopreservation also suggests that cryopreservation of ovarian tissues has real potential for clinical application."

** Development of antral follicles in human cryopreserved ovarian tissue following xenografting.Human Reproduction.Vol 16 No 3 pp 417-422

Growing mouse ovarian follicles - future tips for freezing human tissue? A study*** by two Sydney-based researchers is the first to show that pre-antral mouse follicles isolated from frozen and thawed ovarian tissue can be grown in-vitro to the point of antral development. They can also release mature eggs after being stimulated with human chorionic gonodatrophin - a hormone used to stimulate the ovaries in IVF treatment.

Dr Helen Newton and Dr Peter Il

Contact: Margaret Willson
European Society for Human Reproduction and Embryology

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