Maintaining Ovarian Function and Hormone Production After Cancer Chemotherapy
Joshua Johnson, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Obstetrics, Gynecology & Reproductive Sciences
Co-funded by the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology & Reproductive Sciences
Preserving the fertility of girls and women who undergo cancer treatment is critical in ensuring quality of life after treatment. The very therapies used to kill cancer cells also kill egg cells in the patients’ ovaries. Dr. Johnson’s Program-funded study was designed to determine the feasibility of using a technology identified in his laboratory to reduce the devastating loss of ovarian function that can result from chemotherapies for cancer.
Highlighted Study Findings
A state-of –the- art technique can be used to preserve fertility, in which pieces of the ovary are removed before cancer treatment and frozen, then thawed and replaced after successful treatment. However, this strategy is not available for some types of cancer, such as ovarian cancer, because returning ovary tissue into a woman treated for ovarian cancer would risk re-introduction of ovarian cancer cells. Dr. Johnson’s study took important initial steps toward improving the survival of eggs produced by culturing ovarian tissue outside of the body, avoiding the risk of returning cancerous tissue to the patient. The findings show that this technology holds promise for developing a method for maintaining ovarian function and overall health in women who undergo cancer treatment.