2011 Grants

Betty Austin Memorial Scholarship

Dr Tom Morewood, Royal Free Hospital London

Investigating the possibility of removing and freezing part of a woman’s ovaries prior to her having cancer treatment, and then reimplanting them after treatment so that she can have a family

£20,000

As treatment improves, many more young women diagnosed with cancer are successfully treated.  However the chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy they receive often causes irreparable damage to their ovaries so that many of them are never able to have children.

Currently, women who have a partner and are diagnosed with cancer are offered the choice of delaying their cancer treatment to have a cycle of In-vitro fertilisation (IVF, test-tube babies) so that embryos can be created and frozen for use at a later date after their treatment. However, many of the younger women do not have a partner at the time their cancer is diagnosed and some women have a type of cancer which may be made worse with the drugs used in IVF.  There is therefore an urgent need to find a way to help these young women to have a baby once their cancer has been treated.

This research is designed to develop a technique in which a portion of her ovary is removed during a small operation. This tissue is then frozen and stored until the treatment for cancer is completed and the patient is in remission.  The ovarian sample can then be thawed and reimplanted into the patient.  This procedure has been used a few times worldwide and there are a small number of babies have been born as a result.  The technique is in its infancy and research is needed to reduce the damage caused during storage.
This project will provide the candidate with valuable training in research, and the opportunity to gain a research doctorate (MD(Res)) and publications required to progress as a clinical academic.  The project will also generate valuable data which will be used at UCL to develop a research programme in ovarian transplantation which will benefit young women diagnosed with cancer and who wish to preserve their ability to have children in the future.

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