-- Robert Preidt
FRIDAY, March 29 (HealthDay News) -- It might be possible to
create artificial ovaries in the laboratory to provide a more
natural form of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) for women,
As well as producing eggs, ovaries secrete hormones that are
important for bone and heart health. Production of these hormones
stops due to menopause, as well as surgical removal of the ovaries,
chemotherapy and radiation treatments for certain types of
There are hormone replacement medications, but long-term use of
the drugs is generally avoided due to the increased risk of heart
disease and breast cancer, according to the authors of a new study
published in the March issue of the journal
In this study, a team from the Institute of Regenerative
Medicine at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center reported that
ovaries created in the lab showed sustained release of the female
sex hormones estrogen and progesterone.
"Our goal is to develop a tissue- or cell-based hormone therapy -- essentially an artificial ovary -- to deliver sex hormones in a more natural manner than drugs," study senior author Emmanuel Opara, a professor of regenerative medicine, said in a Wake Forest news release.
"A bioartificial ovary has the potential to secrete hormones in a natural way based on the body's needs, rather than the patient taking a specific dose of drugs each day," Opara explained.
The next research step -- evaluating the function of the ovarian
structures in animals -- is already under way, Opara noted.
Commenting on the study, Dr. Tamer Yalcinkaya, an associate
professor and section head of reproductive medicine at Wake Forest
Baptist, said: "This research project is interesting because it
offers hope to replace natural ovarian hormones in women with
premature ovarian failure or in women going through menopause."
An artificial ovary "would bring certain advantages: It would
eliminate pharmacokinetic variations of hormones when administered
as drugs and would also allow body's feedback mechanisms to control
the release of ovarian hormones," Yalcinkaya explained in the news
The American Academy of Family Physicians has more about
hormone replacement therapy.
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