Use of stem cells appears promising in restoring fertility in premature ovarian failure patients

The use of stem cells to “re-awaken” the ovaries in women with premature ovarian failure (POF) pave the way for novel treatments for this cause of infertility, says GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company. Despite their young age, POF patients face a difficult-to-treat infertility issue with limited treatment options and relatively poor fertility outcomes.

In the randomized, prospective, pilot study, presented at this year’s European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE) congress, follicular development was demonstrated in a number of patients included in both study arms: those receiving autologous stem cell ovarian transplant (ASCOT) as a direct infusion of stem cells in the ovary and those receiving mobilized stem cells through peripheral blood.

According to key opinion leaders (KOLs) interviewed by GlobalData, the process of rescuing follicles from the existing ovarian follicle pool for subsequent use during in vitro fertilization (IVF), known as ovarian rejuvenation, constitutes an important area of research with the potential to address infertility causes such as POF or diminished ovarian reserve (DOR).

Kelly Lambrinos, Managing Analyst at GlobalData comments: “No currently available treatment option has been shown to restore fertility in POF, so the resumption of ovarian function in these patients means women could have the chance to pursue pregnancy through IVF using their own eggs as opposed to donor eggs.”

KOLs agreed that DOR and POF constitute subgroups of infertility patients that are challenging to treat due to their low or depleted ovarian reserve. On average, approximately 21% of infertility patients were diagnosed with DOR across the seven major markets (7MM*) in 2018, according to primary research conducted by GlobalData.

Lambrinos continues: “The study results have implications on a wider population of female infertility patients, specifically those with DOR. While infusion of stem cells in the ovary has been previously successfully tested in DOR patients, the results in the POF setting further reinforce the concept of stem cell use to restore follicular development in these patients.”

The successful development and maturation of multiple follicles following controlled ovarian stimulation in assisted reproductive technology (ART) is an important factor contributing to the positive outcome of IVF treatments. With a higher number of follicles obtained, there is a higher chance of high-quality embryos forming, which subsequently leads to higher chances of conception.

Lambrinos adds: “One important limitation of ART is the decreased number of available follicles remaining in the ovaries of reproductively older infertile women and young women with DOR, or the lack of follicles in cases of premature ovarian failure. These women respond poorly, if at all, to standard ovarian stimulation, leaving these patients in need of novel treatment approaches.”

*7MM: US, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, UK, and Japan

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