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Two Swedish women could be able to give birth using the wombs in which they were carried, doctors say, hailing the world’s first mother-to-daughter uterus transplants.
The weekend procedures were completed by more than 10 surgeons at Sweden’s University of Gothenburg.
The names of the patients have not been revealed.
Doctors caution they will not consider the operations successful unless the women achieve pregnancy.
Two Swedish women could be able to give birth using the wombs in which they were carried
“We are not going to call it a complete success until this results in children,” said Michael Olausson, one of the Swedish surgeons told The Associated Press.
“That’s the best proof.”
Both women started in-vitro fertilization before the surgery, he said, adding that their frozen embryos will be thawed and transferred if the women are considered in good enough health after a year-long observation period.
Both recipients, who are aged in their 30s, were tired after the surgery but recovering well, said the university in a statement.
One had her uterus removed due to cervical cancer and the other was born without a uterus, they added
“The donating mothers are up and walking and will be discharged from the hospital within a few days,” said Mats Brannstrom, a professor of obstetrics and gynaecology at the university.
He is the leader of a research team – comprising 20 scientists, doctors and specialists – which has been working on the project since 1999.
Turkish doctors said they had performed a successful uterus transplant last year, giving a womb from a deceased donor to a young woman, but Dr. Michael Olausson said he was not sure whether the recipient had yet started undergoing fertility treatment.
The first widely reported womb transplant from a live donor was performed in 2000, in Saudi Arabia, but the organ had to be removed three months later because of a blood clot.
Last year, 56-year-old Eva Ottoson, who lives in Nottinghamshire, said she hoped to become the first woman to have her womb transplanted into her daughter, Sara, 25, who lives in Sweden and was born without reproductive organs.
It remains unknown whether they were involved in the weekend’s procedures.
A new Australian study has found that fertility treatment used to help infertile men become fathers can raise the risk of birth defects in babies.
Research on more than 300,000 babies found those born using Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) had a significantly higher risk of developing abnormalities than those conceived naturally.
Researchers linked a census of more than 6,100 births that occurred as a result of fertility treatment in South Australia to a registry of more than 300,000 births and 18,000 birth defects.
The report by the University of Adelaide published in the New England Journal of Medicine shows that on average defects were present in 8.3% of pregnancies that involved fertility treatment compared to 5.8% of those conceived naturally.
According to the study, in vitro fertilisation (IVF) posed the least risk to women opting for assisted conception, with defects occurring in only 7.2% of pregnancies.
ICSI is primarily used for male fertility problems and this risk is decreased using frozen eggs, according to the study’s lead author, Associate Professor Michael Davies.
“I don’t want to scare people,” he said because the majority of babies were born healthy.
“But this may be due to developmentally compromised embryos failing to survive the freeze/thaw process,” he said.
“While assisted reproductive technologies are associated with an increased risk of major birth defects overall, we found significant differences in risk between available treatments.”
Research on more than 300,000 babies found those born using Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) had a significantly higher risk of developing abnormalities than those conceived naturally
More than 3.7 million babies are born each year through assisted reproduction.
Methods include everything from drugs to coax the ovaries to make eggs to artificial insemination and IVF. Fertility treatments account for about 4% of births in Australia and as many as 8% of them in Denmark, where costs are widely covered, Michael Davies said.
In the United States, more than 60,000 babies were born in 2009 from 146,000 IVF attempts. About three-quarters of them used ICSI, or intracytoplasmic sperm injection.
ICSI was developed because of male infertility. But half the time, it was not done for that reason but to improve the odds that at least some embryos will be created from an IVF attempt.
In 2005, the last year for which data was available, 5,935 babies were born as a result of IVF treatment compared to 5,265 babies born with the help of ICSI.
One surprising find within the research was a tripling of risk among women who used the drug clomiphene citrate to stimulate ovary production, though this was among a small group within the study.
The drug is cheap and easily available through the internet, raising the possibility of abuse, but it is known to cause foetal abnormalities if the woman taking is not aware she is already pregnant.
The drug is prescribed after a mandatory pregnancy test in a clinical setting, but this can be avoided in self-medication.
Associate Professor Michael Davies said: “While confined to a small group in our study, this is of particular concern as clomiphene citrate is now very widely available at low cost, and may easily be used contrary to manufacturers’ very specific instructions to avoid use if pregnant, as it may cause fetal malformations.
“This aspect of the study will need additional confirmation from future research.
“A history of infertility, either with or without assisted conception, was also significantly associated with birth defects.
“While factors associated with the causes of infertility explained the excess risk associated with IVF, the increased risk for a number of other treatments could not readily be explained by patient factors.
“ICSI, for instance, had a 57% increase in the odds of major defect, although the absolute size of the risk remained relatively small.”
US scientists have made a breakthrough discovery finding stem cells in human ovaries from which it may one day be possible to produce an “unlimited” supply of eggs.
The discovery could revolutionize fertility treatment, according to experts.
Researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital were able to isolate the cells in a laboratory where they “spontaneously generated” eggs which they say are capable of being fertilized.
Experts say the discovery challenges the prevailing view that women only have a certain number of eggs and can never produce any more, unlike men who go on producing sperm.
In this sense it “re-writes the rule book” and could help infertile couples and also potentially allow women to remain fertile for longer, they added.
The scientists managed to locate egg-producing stem cells in the ovaries of reproductive age women and grow immature eggs, known as oocytes.
US scientists have made a breakthrough discovery finding stem cells in human ovaries from which it may one day be possible to produce an “unlimited” supply of eggs
These appeared normal and when implanted in living human ovarian tissue – which was grafted inside mice – grew normally for two weeks.
Dr. Jonathan Tilly, who led the study, said it “opens the door for development of unprecedented technologies to overcome infertility in women and perhaps even delay the timing of ovarian failure”.
He added: “These cells, when maintained outside of the body, are more than happy to make cells on their own and if we can guide that process I think it opens up the chance that sometime in the future we might get to the point of having an unlimited source of human eggs.”
Dr. Jonathan Tilly’s team found the stem cells by searching for a protein called DDX4, unique to the surface of egg cells.
For legal reasons, scientists cannot use these egg cells to create an embryo. But the same stem cells taken from mice were fertilized and produced embryos, according to the study published in the Nature Medicine journal.
The latest advance could, if it works in further trials, change all that.
Although using the technique in humans is probably some years away, Dr. Jonathan Tilly’s team is looking at putting the cells in a bank so they can be tested further and possibly used to improve IVF treatment and for women undergoing cancer treatment.
A woman has the most oocytes as a foetus, about 7 million, dropping to about one million by birth, and 300,000 by puberty. By menopause, she has none left.
Since the 50’s, scientists thought that ovarian stem cells capable of producing new eggs were only active during in the womb as a baby develops.
Dr. Jonathan Tilly said this belief “was not actually based on data proving it was impossible, it was simply an assumption made because there was no evidence indicating otherwise”.
5-year-old Reuben Blake and his seven-week-old sister Floren from UK are twins that arrive five years apart.
Both children were born from the same batch of embryos created during their parents’ IVF treatment.
While Reuben was successfully implanted in 2006, Floren was kept on ice until 2011.
Now their parents, Jody and Simon Blake, delight in telling well-wishers all about the incredible age gap between their “twins”.
“I tell everybody I can,” said Simon Blake, a business lecturer.
“People take an interest in a newborn baby and with Reuben around as well, I find it very difficult to resist the temptation to say <<Oh and by the way, they are twins>>.
“It’s almost just to see people’s response. They are really amazed and surprised.”
5-year-old Reuben Blake and his seven-week-old sister Floren from UK are twins that arrive five years apart
Jody Blake, a charity worker, added: “It does feel quite surreal.
“I think people are really, really surprised and it almost takes them a few minutes to get their heads around it.
“We obviously had nine months to get it straight and to think <<Gosh, we’re having Reuben’s twin>>, but it’s incredibly special.”
Jody Blake, 38, and her 45-year-old husband began fertility treatment in 2005.
During the medical process, five embryos were created and two implanted in Jody Blake, which resulted in the birth of Reuben on December 9, 2006.
The remaining three embryos were frozen until the couple, from Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, decided to try for another child in March 2011.
Only one of the embryos survived the defrosting process and 39 weeks later Floren arrived by Caesarean section.
Reuben is fascinated by his little sister. “He knows that she’s been in the freezer,” said Jody Blake.
“He likes to say she has been in the freezer with the chips and the chicken, so he is sort of aware that she is his twin, but obviously he doesn’t really understand how it’s all worked.
“They do look very similar. Reuben was just a bigger version of Floren when he was born, so certainly there are similarities physically.”
Recalling their decision to try for a second child, Simon Blake said: “We wanted to complete the family. We were aware the odds were long.
“You just can’t comprehend that a life could come from some material that’s been frozen for that length of time.”
Doctors who treated the Blakes at the Bristol Centre for Reproductive Medicine said the decision to freeze remaining IVF embryos was a safer way to have more than one child.
Lead clinician Dr. Valentine Akande said: “We very often recommend storing surplus embryos so that they can be used at a later date.
“Sadly, due to the chance work of nature, not everybody is able to have those surplus embryos and, of course, not everybody meets with success when they are used.”