Breakthrough Australian research into artificial ovaries hopes to give women diagnosed with leukaemia the chance to have children.
Stacey-Lee Craanen was diagnosed with leukaemia at age three and again at age seven, and like others with cancer, her future fertility options were compromised.
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Head of Reproductive Services at Melbourne’s Royal Women’s Hospital, Dr Debra Gook, said fertility issues can occur when follicles within the ovaries are destroyed during cancer treatments.
“Chemotherapy drugs that are used, they are very high levels — they actually destroy the follicles that are present within the ovary,” Gook told 7NEWS.
Gook and a team of researches at the Royal Women’s Hospital said they are on the verge of a breakthrough in creating an artificial ovary.
“If there was a way that people like me that have been through so much treatment, could then go on and have children, it would be a massive breakthrough,” Craanen said.
Stacey-Lee Craanen says it would be a ‘massive breakthrough’ for cancer survivors like herself to have children. Credit: 7NEWS
“We’re taking the follicles and putting those in this matrix, and that’s what we call the artificial ovary,” Gook said.
“Then we’ll transplant that back to the patient after we’ve made sure there is no risk of reintroducing the cancer or the leukaemia.”
Dr Debra Gook is heading research into artificial ovaries. Credit: 7NEWSResearchers say follicles are damaged due to strong cancer treatment drugs. Credit: 7NEWS
Researches said that when they take the follicles, they’re testing emerging chemotherapy options that will kill the cancer and preserve the follicles needed to protect the egg.
“These transformation changes in cancer treatment have come about because we’ve been able to sustain cancer investments through the decades” Cancer Council CEO Todd Harper said.
“I think in five or 10 years we’ll see that this will be the technology that will give hope for young girls with leukaemia,” Gook said.