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Chemotherapy and Infertility

NHS Choices,  Sept 28, 2009
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There is a “baby hope for women on toxic cancer drugs”, according to the Daily Express. The newspaper heralds what it calls a major breakthrough by scientists whose work could “bring new hope for women who face the heartbreak of losing their fertility after toxic cancer treatment.”

The research behind this news is a laboratory study carried out by researchers at the University of Rome, largely in mice cells and live mice but also using some human bone cancer cells. The researchers investigated the complex effects of treatment a drug called cisplatin used to treat some cancers, including ovarian. They focused on its affect on mice ovaries and its interaction with imatinib, a drug used to treat leukemia and known to block some of the reactions that cisplatin activates. The scientists found that imatinib was able to prevent the death of cells that cisplatin can otherwise cause.

The findings open up an avenue for future research into the infertility that is commonly associated with chemotherapeutic treatment in women. However, any infertility treatments that can be given to women alongside their chemotherapy remain some way off, and the findings will next need to be replicated in human tissue samples. These two drugs can counter each other’s effects, so the action simultaneous treatment has on the anti-tumour effect of cisplatin will also need investigation. Read more.


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