An Italian woman has given birth after being transplanted with ovarian tissue that had been frozen for seven years.
Italian scientists told the annual meeting of ESHRE (European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology) this week that the significant length of time the tissue spent in 'freeze-storage' could have wider implications for women hoping to conceive.
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"We are not aware, so far, of any time limit for cryopreserved ovarian tissue," said Dr Gennarelli from Clinica Universitaria Sant'Anna in Turin, in a statement.
"We and other groups now believe that ovarian tissue freezing for fertility preservation should not be considered experimental but be recognised as a routine clinical practice to be offered in appropriate cases," he added.
"Age, for example, is one important consideration."
The news that pieces of a woman's ovary could be removed, stored and then replaced during surgery could signal new hope for older women wishing to become pregnant.
Recent research suggests that failed IVF attempts leads to a higher risk of depression among women.
According to The Telegraph, advancements in this field could effectively could effectively put a woman's menopause 'on ice'.
However, the report also highlighted that while delaying the menopause could avoid an increased risk of osteoporosis and heart disease (connected with end of woman's fertile life) it may raise the risk of breast and womb cancer.
The Italian case described by Dr Gennarelli was remarkable because - with a gap of seven years - it represents one of the longest time intervals yet between the date of tissue freezing and the date of successful transplantation.
"It demonstrates that pregnancy can be obtained by this technique even after several years of cryostorage," said Dr Gennarelli.
The birth is believed to be the 22nd in the world via this technique and has, says Gennarelli, become a key component of the management of fertility in cancer patients facing treatment with a high risk of ovarian failure.
In March 2010, following the patient's request and investigation for fertility restoration, 32 cortical tissue fragments were thawed and sutured to prepared sites.
Two months after the tissue grafting, some ovarian function returned and spontaneous follicular development was observed.
Over the following months spontaneous menstrual cycles were repeatedly evident and ovulation was confirmed in at least six cycles.
In July 2011, 15 months after the ovarian tissue transplantation, the patient became spontaneously pregnant, and a healthy baby was delivered in March 2012.
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