Revolutionary Ovarian Transplant Successful in Animal Model

A first-of-its-kind study successfully transferred an ovary from one individual to another.

For the first time, researchers were able to transplant an ovary successfully, and were even able to restore a monthly function.

A study published in Fertility and Sterility opens the door for the possibility of ovarian transplantations becoming a part of the norm in the future.

It is estimated that approximately 11% of women experience premature ovarian failure, which can be attributed to numerous factors, such as cancer treatment and genetics. Some women who suffer from this, while still very young, will prematurely enter menopause.

“Firstly, an early menopause means that women cannot fulfill their longing for a child and, secondly, the associated drop in hormone levels can prematurely trigger osteoporosis or other menopausal complications,” said lead study author Michael Feichtinger.

Researchers used an animal model to perform an allogeneic ovary transplant through the help of a new immunosuppressive agent, called preimplantation factor (PIF).

For the study, researchers used 2 baboons treated with PIF, both before and after the transplantation. The experiment was conducted at the World Health Organization Institute of Primate Research in Kenya.

The team’s efforts were found to be successful in one of the animals, with the initiation of a monthly functional cycle. However, in the other animal, the transplant was unsuccessful.

“Notwithstanding this, the study is still very promising,” Feichtinger said. “These results would suggest that successful ovarian transplantation might be possible in [the] future. The researchers also demonstrated that the new immunosuppressive agent PIF functions well without side effects and this could open up new potential applications for other types of transplant procedures.”

Currently, more studies are being done to demonstrate specifically which factors are crucial in securing a successful transplant.

The findings were presented at the largest reproduction conference in the world, which was held in Salt Lake City, UT, at the end of October 2016.