Researchers from Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine have found that bioengineered artificial ovaries may offer a safer and more natural hormone replacement therapy for women and can also improve bone and uterine health.
The Wake Forest team's study may give women an alternative to hormone replacement medications which carry a high risk for heart disease as well as breast cancer, according to a Wake Forest press release.
“The treatment is designed 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,” Emmanuel Opara, senior author and professor of regenerative medicine at the institute, said in a press release.
“Safe hormone replacement will likely become increasingly important as the population of aging women grows," Opara said in the release. "Whether the loss of ovarian function is due to surgical removal, chemotherapy or menopause, the effects can range from hot flashes and vaginal dryness to infertility and increased risk of osteoporosis and heart disease."
Researchers engineered bioartificial ovaries by isolating two cells found in ovaries, theca and granulosa, in rats.
“This study highlights the potential utility of cell-based hormone therapy for the treatment of conditions associated with the loss of ovarian function," Opara said in the release.
Researchers say the next step will be to study the treatment's effectiveness in women and the possibility of donor cells.