According to BBC News today, a new fertility technique that could provide hope for women who want children but have gone through early menopause has proven successful with the birth of a baby from the procedure in Japan.
Developed by American and Japanese doctors, the technique is designed to "reawaken" ovaries that have become prematurely infertile. As part of a study, the procedure was done on 27 women who all went through menopause due to "primary ovarian insufficiency" around the age of 30. So far, one healthy baby has been born at the St. Marianna University School of Medicine in Kawasaki, Japan and another woman in the study is pregnant.
Researchers centered the treatment on ovarian follicles, which mature into eggs in fertile women. In order to regenerate egg production, doctors removed the ovaries of the study participants and cut them into fragments before applying a chemical, re-implanting the ovaries, and starting hormone therapy in hopes of "wak[ing] up the sleeping follicles."
Follicles then began to regrow in eight women. The Telegraph reports that five developed, mature eggs were detected and fertilized outside the body through a typical in-vitro fertilization process.
Though it is still unclear at this point just how the treatment can be used clinically, the study's doctors will being some more investigating to see if it can be used more widely on women with early menopause or other forms of infertility such as the result of chemotherapy or older women with irregular menstrual cycles.
"It's potentially really, really, interesting, but we need a lot more investigation to confirm this is not another false dawn," Professor Charles Kingsland of Liverpool Women's Hospital and the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists said. "I will see primary ovarian insufficiency on a regular basis in my clinic so if it's effective in the long term, it's something we'd be interested in."