How regenerative medicine could help treat infertility
Regenerative medicine refers to the science of using living cells to repair or replace damaged cells with the intent of restoring normal function. In the past, a majority of regenerative therapies revolved around whole organ transplants (which can be traced back to the first kidney transfer between identical twins in 1954) and skin grafts (which go back even further to 1870). Over the last 20 years, however, research into regenerative science has established the potential for regenerative therapy to offer therapeutic relief in other circumstances, as well. Today, for example, people researching legitimate stem cell clinics can find many different kinds of physicians using regenerative medicine to combat the effects of age, disease and/or injury in a variety of different ways. What was once seemingly possible only in fiction books and television shows is now clinically applicable in a host of situations and for many separate conditions. In addition to treating sports injuries, repairing degenerative disease and fighting cancers, regenerative medicine also shows promise in treating infertility. Here’s how:
Stem Cells Could Treat Erectile Dysfunction
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, one third of infertile couples have difficulty conceiving as a result of male fertility problems, including sexual dysfunction. When erectile dysfunction is the issue, men can undergo stem cell therapy using mesenchymal stem cells taken from adipose tissue in the abdomen. Research indicates that these cells, when injected into the penis, can help restore erectile function, thus enabling normal sexual activity.
Stem Cells Could Proliferate Male and Female Gametes
While not clinically applied to date, studies indicate that pluripotent stem cells modified with certain growth factors could give rise to germ cells that could then be transplanted into patients as a way to regenerate functional oocytes and spermatazoa. This would serve as a way to treat azoospermia and primary ovarian insufficiency.
Whole Organ or Tissue Transplant Could Replace Ovary and Uterus
Both whole organ and tissue transplants using bioengineered or cryopreserved ovarian and uterine specimens have enabled patients with diminished or absent practical activity of the ovaries and uterus to restore function; a few have even produced viable pregnancies with live births. Although not commonplace in clinical application, science suggests gonadal transplantation could become a more accepted option as anti-rejection drugs and other immunosuppressants become more effective and ethical concerns are resolved.
Immunotherapy Could Protect Against Failed Implantation During IVF
Immunotherapy has been used in cancer treatments for over 100 years. Today, it is being researched for its effectiveness in treating other types of conditions such as type 1 diabetes, hepatitis, allergies and asthma and is frequently used clinically as an anti-rejection technique following a tissue transplantation. Indeed, its ability to suppress immune response against foreign material makes it a potentially important weapon during in vitro fertilization when implanted embryos are especially vulnerable. Immunotherapy could curb the body’s normal tendency to view transplanted cells as “invaders.”