Breakthrough: Infertile cancer patient successfully delivers baby using her own frozen egg
Paris: Fertility preservation (FP) in young cancer patients is a major issue. Out of many techniques available, vitrification of fertilized or unfertilized oocytes recovered after controlled ovarian stimulation before cancer therapy currently represents the most established and efficient method for preserving female fertility
Researchers in France have reported the world's first-ever case in which a woman rendered infertile by chemotherapy for breast cancer. gave birth after one of her immature eggs was matured, frozen, and then -- five years later -- thawed and fertilized. This has led to a 34-year-old cancer survivor becoming the first to give birth via her own frozen, lab-matured egg.
The study has been published in the journal Annals of Oncology.
The woman opted to take a chance on in vitro maturation (IVM), a procedure that involves culturing the ovum with hormones in a lab setting to prepare them for fertilization. The doctors removed seven immature eggs from her ovaries and used a technique called in vitro maturation (IVM) to allow the eggs to develop further in the laboratory before the treatment began. Doctors removed and matured seven of her eggs before putting them through the rapid-cooling process called vitrification.
This is the first-ever case of successful pregnancy in a cancer patient with eggs that have undergone IVM and freezing.
After five years, the patient recovered from breast cancer, but she was unable to conceive naturally. The chemo had made her infertile. After the age of 40, some 40 per cent of breast cancer patients transition into menopause because of their treatment. At 30 years old, the rate is 15 to 20 percent.
Six of the eggs that had been frozen five years earlier survived the thawing process, and five were successfully fertilized. One of these fertilized eggs was transferred to the patient's womb, and she gave birth to a healthy baby boy, named Jules, on July 6, 2019.
No information was provided on the identity of the biological father.
"We have shown that this technique -- even if it can be improved -- allows women in this situation to have children," Grynberg said.
Experts not involved in the procedure described it as a breakthrough.
"Getting eggs to mature successfully after removal from the ovary has been a challenge, so this is a very welcome positive step," said Richard Anderson, head of obstetrics and Gynaecology at the MRC Centre for Reproductive Health at the University of Edinburgh.
Freezing eggs at that stage also mean that they remain the woman's property, without the complications that using a partner's sperm to fertilise can engender, he noted.
"This advance is particularly important for cancer patients, but it's also a step towards easier and less invasive in vitro fertilisation (IVF)," Anderson added.
Gynberg calls their work a "breakthrough in the field of fertility preservation."
"IVM enables us to freeze eggs or embryos in urgent situations or when it would be hazardous for the patient to undergo ovarian stimulation. In addition, using them is not associated with a risk of cancer recurrence," he explained.
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