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Way Of Preventing Menopause In Cancer Patients Discovered

 
  October, 1 2000 19:31
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Combating chemotherapy-induced menopause

A tragically common side effect of chemotherapy for the treatment of cancer in female patients is the onset of menopause. Now, researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital may have discovered a way of preventing menopause in cancer patients and the therapy could also lead to the possibility of delayed menopause for all women [Nature Medicine, Vol. 6, No. 10, October 2000].

At birth, females are born with their full complement of occytes and these are gradually lost from the point of menarche until full depletion signals menopause. Apoptosis—programmed cell death—has been identified as the mechanism by which oocytes are destroyed and based on this knowledge, Jonathan Tilly and colleagues attempted to interrupt the molecular pathway involved in oocyte destruction.

The researchers treated mice with a compound called sphingosine-1-phosphate (S1P) and found that this completely prevented radiation-induced oocyte loss. They also disrupted the gene for sphingomyelinase and found that this treatment led to excessive development of ovarian tissue in mice. Both of these treatments work by reducing cellular levels of a molecule called ceramide, which is believed to be the trigger for apoptosis in oocytes.

In an accompanying News & Views article, Robert Casper and Andrea Jurisicova at the Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute and the University of Toronto discuss this "innovative and exciting new treatment to prevent oocyte destruction after cancer therapy".

Dr. Jonathan L. Tilly
Vincent Center for Reproductive Biology
Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology
Massachusetts General Hospital
Harvard Medical School
Boston, Massachusetts 02114
Tel: +1 617 724 2182
Fax : +1 617 726 7548
Email: jtilly@partners.org

Dr. Robert F. Casper
Division of Reproductive Sciences,
Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology
Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute
and The University of Toronto
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Email: r.casper@utoronto.ca

(C) Nature Medicine press release.


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