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Frozen whole ovaries produce embryos

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BET DAGAN, Israel, Sep 15, 2005 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- Israeli scientists working with sheep say they have, for the first time, developed embryos from previously frozen whole ovaries.

And the researchers at Israel's Institute of Animal Science believe the procedure could one day work with humans, the BBC reported Thursday.

Scientists seeking to preserve the fertility of women undergoing aggressive cancer treatment have been limited to two options: harvesting, fertilizing and then freezing a woman's eggs or freezing and then transplanting strips of ovarian tissue. In both options, the rate of successful pregnancies is low.

Human whole ovary transplants have already been attempted twice in women, but neither experiment involved freezing and then thawing the ovary.

Dr. Amir Arav and his team tested whether ovaries from eight sheep, together with their blood vessels, could survive a freezing-thawing process, the BBC said, noting sheep ovaries are similar to those of humans.

Five of the eight frozen and thawed ovaries were successfully transplanted and two of those ovaries yielded the eggs that made sheep embryos.

The scientists say the method must now be tried with humans.

The research appears in the journal Human Reproduction.

Copyright 2005 by United Press International.

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