Thirty-three percent of survivors of childhood cancer are at great risk of getting infertile as a result of radiations and chemotherapy. The latest research conducted on a non-human primate model showed that the immature testicular tissue could be cryopreserved and then later utilized to restore the animal’s fertility. This advancement in science provides hope for boys who will be undergoing cancer treatments.
The senior study author, Dr. Kyle Orwig said, “We grew up in families ourselves, and I imagine that many of us dreamed about growing up and having our own families,” He also stated, “This advance is an important step toward offering young cancer patients around the world a chance at having a family in the future.”
Boys do not have mature sperms by birth rather the hormonal changes that they undergo during puberty increase the production of testosterone that further activates the production of sperms from stem cells. Chemotherapy tends to kill these stem cells causing infertility in boys.
The first author, Dr. Adetunji Fayomi said, “Previous research in non-human primates has demonstrated that sperm could be produced from autologous transplants of frozen prepubertal testicular tissue, but the ability to produce a healthy live offspring – the gold standard of any reproductive technology – has not been achieved until now.”
In this latest research, Dr. Orwig and the team made a model of a non-human primate that had survived cancer. Before treating it with chemotherapy, the scientists removed one of the testes from the model and cryopreserved its immature testicular tissue. Once the animals reached puberty, the other testis was also removed. Later on the same day, pieces of the tissue and the cryopreserved ones were transplanted under the skin of the same animal. Once the animals reached the age of puberty, the level of testosterone increased and they started producing sperms. Around 8-12 months later, the animals were examined again and a great number of sperms were found in them. The scientists then transferred the sperms to a female recipient who later got pregnant and delivered a healthy baby.
The authors believe that the reason for their success in this experiment was that they had used a different protocol for cryopreservation and injected larger testicular tissue pieces as compared to the previous studies.