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Marjorie Bekaert Thomas
Advances in health and medicine.
Children's Health Channel
Reported March 18, 2013

Preserving Fertility In Childhood Cancer Patients


(Ivanhoe Newswire) -- According to the American Childhood Cancer Organization, each year in the United States there are approximately 13,400 children who are diagnosed with cancer. While success rates in treating childhood cancers have improved, greater emphasis is being placed on the quality of life issues that follow treatment.
Cancer treatments can lead to infertility, but there are a few methods that will preserve the fertility of children who have not hit puberty.  Spermatogonial stem cells (SSCs), which produce stem cells, are present prior to the start of puberty. 
Theoretically, SSCs can be removed through a biopsy before the start of treatment and it can be transplanted back into the body following remission, but that leaves the potential risk of reintroducing malignant material during transplantation.  
Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh characterized the cells surface markers of human SSCs in testicular tissue from organ donors.  Kyle Orwig and his colleagues report the development of a multi-parameter sorting approach to separate SSCs from cancerous cells.  The sorted SSCs were able to function properly when they were transplanted in mice, but did not form tumors.  
The results suggest that SSC transplantation could be a viable method to preserve fertility in male childhood cancer survivors.
SOURCE: Journal of Clinical Investigation, March 2013
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