Fertility researchers have successfully produced a baby rhesus monkey after transplanting part of its mother's ovary to a different site in her body. The process represents a step towards transplanting functional ovarian tissue in cancer patients who may have been sterilized by radiation and chemotherapy.
The monkey is the first primate to be born after an ovarian transplant, report D. M. Lee and colleagues in a Brief Communication in Nature (Vol. 428, No. 6979, pp. 137-138). The researchers removed ovarian tissue from each of seven monkeys and transferred it to the abdomen, arm or next to the kidney, each monkey receiving a transplant of her own ovarian tissue. They then extracted developed eggs from the tissue and transferred them after fertilization into the wombs of surrogate mothers, one of which became pregnant and gave birth to a healthy baby.
The technique sets the stage for similar procedures in humans, although those undergoing chemotherapy will require the transplanted tissue to be frozen until needed, rather than used fresh, as in this case. "This procedure could potentially rescue fertility in cancer survivors," the authors say.
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