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Chemotherapy drug may be the key to boosting fertility

A common drug used for chemotherapy has been found to help produce more eggs in a woman's ovaries, indicating a possible solution for low fertility.

The cost for infertility treatments can be expensive. In the U.S. the average cost for in vitro fertilization is around $11,000 to $12,000, according to the Advanced Fertility Center of Chicago.

Scientists at the University of Edinburgh studied ovary tissue samples from 14 women who had gone through chemotherapy and compared them with samples from 12 healthy women.

In vitro fertilisation (IVF) being performed by a fertility doctor (right).
Mauro Fermariello | Getty Images
In vitro fertilisation (IVF) being performed by a fertility doctor (right).

The ovary tissue from the women who had been treated with a drug combination known as ABVD was found to be healthy, comparable to tissue from a young woman's ovaries and had an increased production of eggs.

Until recently, it was considered impossible to increase the number of eggs produced during a woman's lifetime. Further research is required to understand how ABVD (a combination of adriamycin, bleomycin, vinblastine and dacarbazine, which is used to treat Hodgkin's lymphoma) impacts women's fertility.

"This study involves only a few patients, but its findings were consistent and its outcome may be significant and far-reaching," Professor Evelyn Telfer from the School of Biological Sciences said in a press release.

"We need to know more about how this drug combination acts on the ovaries, and the implications of this."

The study, published in the journal Human Reproduction on Monday, was supported by the Medical Research Council.

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