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Chemotherapy & Infertility

June 6, 2013

Researchers discover why chemotherapy makes women infertile – and hopefully, how to stop it.



Chemotherapy without infertility. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Chemotherapy often leaves women infertile. Now, Israeli scientists have not only figured out why, but how it might be prevented. Dror Meirow is head of the Sheba Medical Center’s Fertility Preservation Center. By studying mice, his team found that a common chemo drug, called cyclophosphamide, prompts egg follicles stored in the ovaries to start growing all at once.

DROR MEIROW (Sheba Medical Center/Tel Aviv University, Israel):

And we know from other studies, and also demonstrated in our study, that when a follicle starts to grow, it is designated for destruction.

As a result, the females burned through their lifetime supply of eggs. But a drug called AS101 prevented this, and mice that received it along with chemotherapy went on to have healthy pups. What’s more, AS101 is already approved to treat other chemo side effects, so its potential effects on human fertility could be studied relatively soon. I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the Science Society.