Tuesday, 22 September 2015

World's first fallopian tube bank to inform research into fertility and cancer

Pinkish in colour and the length of a middle finger, the first stocks in an unusual new bank are useless to their female donors, but for future generations they may hold the cure to health problems ranging from infertility to cancer.
The Royal Hospital for Women and the University of NSW have opened the world's first fallopian tube bank with 68 founding specimens, which would otherwise have been discarded as medical waste after being removed from women with ectopic pregnancies.
Doctors have been collecting the fallopian tubes since September 2013, but they have now reached the critical mass necessary to make them available for research.
Every woman who was approached agreed to donate her fallopian tube to the project.
The Royal's head of reproductive medicine, Bill Ledger, said the tissue could be used to improve researchers' understanding of conditions that occur later in pregnancy, such as pre-eclampsia and how cancer cells invade healthy cells within a tissue.
It could also tell doctors more about why some women are more susceptible than others to ectopic pregnancy.
"The one question women always have when they wake up is, why did it happen to me?" Professor Ledger said.
"Women who have had one ectopic pregnancy are five times more likely to have another one than someone who hasn't had one. A lot of these women end up in IVF."
The research will also be a boon to the IVF industry
Professor Ledger, who holds a position with IVF Australia, said the fallopian tube collection had already yielded evidence that some women's wombs were not receptive to the embryo being implanted at the right time of the month.
About 2 per cent of pregnancies are ectopic, which occurs when the baby starts to develop outside the uterus, usually in the fallopian tubes.
The condition is fatal to the fetus and life threatening to the mother, causing nearly three-quarters of maternal deaths that occur in the first trimester.
Fiona Patterson was expecting her first baby with IVF when her doctors detected an ectopic pregnancy, causing mild panic among her specialists.
"Everybody was really worried," Ms Patterson said.
"They said if you have any pain, just ring an ambulance. They gave me their personal numbers. Every day I would go home and think, is it going to happen tonight?"
The pregnancy ended in miscarriage and she ended all attempts to become pregnant with her own eggs.

Instead she found an egg donor, and seven weeks ago she brought home a little girl.