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Possible Solution Emerges for Young Men Facing Infertility
Experimental Procedure Might Be Able to Preserve Reproductive Tissue
September 13, 2019
Certain medical treatments, cancers, and other health disorders can result in a boy or young man becoming infertile. While banking sperm is an option for post-pubescent patients, for boys who have yet to go through puberty and young men who are too sick to produce a sperm sample, there is little hope of preserving fertility for later use.
There are many factors that can contribute to infertility in men. Some are physical issues resulting in the absence of sperm in semen, while others affect sperm production or the quality of the sperm itself.
Chemotherapy, hormone therapies, radiation therapy, and some antibiotics can increase the risk of male infertility. Additionally, cancer in the testicles, prostate, or bladder, as well as surgeries to treat these cancers, can cause infertility. According to ScienceDaily, “An estimated 2,000 U.S. boys and young men each year receive treatments or have cancers or blood disorders that place them at risk for infertility.”
From January 2011 to November 2018, medical centers in the US and Israel collected tissue samples from patients and sent them to be stored at processing facilities, the highest-collecting of which is at the University of Pittsburgh. The storage facilities cryopreserve the tissue by storing it in liquid nitrogen at a temperature close to absolute zero.
Michael Hseih, Ph.D., who is the director of urology at Children’s National in Washington, D.C., another processing facility participating in the experiment, says, "This study is unique in that there is definitely a potential direct patient benefit.”
The patients, ranging from the ages 5 months to 35 years, assigned 25 percent of the tissue to be used in the study and the other 75 percent to be stored for future use.
"One of the reasons the study is compelling is that it presents a message of hope to the families,” Dr. Hseih continues. “It's a message of survivorship: We're optimistic we can help your child get through this and think about long-term issues, like having their own families."
Using the data collected for the study, the researchers will be able to do more investigation into cell- and tissue-based therapies and the prospect of sperm generation from testicular tissue. Successful findings would mean benefits for both participants from study as well as sufferers of male infertility everywhere.
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