New Stem Cell Research Give Hope To Male Infertile Cancer Survivors
Infertile male cancer survivors have new hope with stem cell research. Assistant Professor Brain Hermann from UTSA worked in tandem with research team at University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine’s Magee-Womens Research Institute on a new technique that enabled male cancer patients fertile post cancer treatment using their own spermatagonial stem cells.
What did the research team do? The research team demonstrated that it is possible to remove testicular stem cells from a monkey and freeze them before chemotherapy and transplant these cells back after cancer treatment and they will restart sperm production restoring fertility.
So, what is novel about this study?
This is a breakthrough study.
- This is the first time that the concept has been shown to be successful in a primate model.
- This would automatically move research forward to clinical trials.
- While adult men can freeze their sperms for future use, the new process provides an option for boys who have not yet attained puberty, i.e. boys who have not yet started making sperms. All boys will have spermatogonial stem cells in their testes, which can be used for transplantation.
However, the path to getting the study clinically viable is not going to be easy. There are many hurdles that have to be overcome.
- More work need to be done to understand optimal timing of transplantation,
- Preparation of testicular stem cells for transplantation
- Making testicular cells safe for transplant
- Maximizing their ability to start production of sperms
- Removal and storage of spermatogonial stem cells is a rare practice, only a handful of clinical world over have the expertise to remove and preserve testicular stem cell samples.
Nevertheless, pre-clinical studies such as these offer hope to thousands of young cancer adults.
One of the main problems faced by young adult cancer patients is that of infertility. Cancer treatments including radiations and chemotherapy most often cause infertility. The standard procedure to combat issues of infertility is to freeze sperms or eggs so that they can be revived post cancer treatment or when the patient decides to start a family. This may not be a very natural process, but it definitely is the best option available.