Chemotherapy and radiation often have the devastating side-effect of leaving patients sterile, but stem cell research is providing promising avenues that could help chemotherapy patients to recover their fertility. While men undergoing chemotherapy can store their sperm before they begin treatment, this isn’t an option for prepubescent boys who’ve not yet begun to produce sperm. But even young boys have spermatogonial stem cells, and research has found that extracting these cells before cancer treatment and transplanting them afterwards can get sperm production restarted. There’s good news for women with chemotherapy-induced infertility too. Stem cells taken from human amniotic fluid that surrounds and protects a growing foetus have been shown to restore ovarian function in infertile mice. Pictured is a section of an ovary in which natural fertility hormones are being produced two months after stem cell transplantation.
Written by Cathleen O'Grady
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